EVANSTON, IL – OCTOBER 05: New Northwestern head basketball coach Chris Collins waves to the crowd during a break in the action between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ryan Field on October 5, 2013 in Evanston, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Northwestern 40-30. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Northwestern’s year in sports was unprecedented. Literally, actually: for the first time in school history, Northwestern students observed their school’s football team and men’s basketball team play in and win a postseason game in the same calendar year.

Generations of Northwestern alumni could only dream of such a feat. Now, the school is investing in the long-term future of both the football program and the men’s basketball program by rewarding head coaches Pat Fitzgerald and Chris Collins with dueling contract extensions. While some Big Ten schools (hi, Indiana!) moved on from their football and basketball coaches, Northwestern is instead looking to keep their program’s heading in the right direction.

The news leaked at approximately the same time, with Brett McMurphy reporting Fitzgerald’s contract extension:

Fitzgerald getting a 10-year contract extension is quite something. He’s long-been perceived as a Northwestern lifer, which is great for the football program considering how well he is respected in the coaching community. Fitzgerald was instrumental in helping Northwestern win on the field when he was a standout linebacker for the Wildcats in the mid-1990s, serving as an assistant from 2001-2005, and his dedication to leading the program as a head coach has been nothing short of commendable. His name continues to be mentioned as a possible coaching candidate for other jobs, but Fitzgerald is as devoted to the Northwestern program as you can imagine. And now it will take even more to lure him away.

Under Fitzgerald, Northwestern has played in seven bowl games, and won two. Prior to Fitzgerald’s being named head coach, Northwestern had played in six bowl games dating back to 1892. Fitzgerald owns the only two bowl victories in program history. Despite being in a division shared by Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa and a conference that includes Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State, the Wildcats have managed to hold their own much more than anyone who had watched the program for decades would have ever imagined.

On the basketball front, news of a contract extension for Collins was reported by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. Goodman’s initial report merely said Collins was receiving “a lengthy contract extension.” What exactly does that mean? Teddy Greenstein of The Chicago Tribune followed up the news with a report suggesting Collins could be locked up through the 2024-25 season:

This past college basketball season saw Collins coach the Wildcats to the first NCAA Tournament berth in school history. It was a long time coming, although the team came very close in the 2015-2016 season under Collins as well. Not content to just make the first tournament in school history, Northwestern recorded the first tournament win in school history, defeating Vanderbilt. Northwestern then gave No. 1 seed and national title runner-up Gonzaga a good run in the second round of the tournament. Was this a preview of sustained success in Evanston? Whatever the future may hold, Northwestern wants Collins to be a part of it.

The contract extensions will reportedly be made official sometime Tuesday, but the message being made by Northwestern appears clear: this school is finally satisfied with the direction of both the football and men’s basketball teams, and wants to build towards sustained success.

[CSN Chicago]

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to NBCSports.com. Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.