Matching the contract extension that football coach Pat Fitzgerald signed in May, Northwestern announced early Wednesday morning that athletic director Jim Phillips has signed a contract extension to keep him in Evanston until 2020.
Phillips and Fitzgerald both signed 10-year extensions this year. Phillips' deal officially ends any speculation that he was headed to Illinois to fill its vacant athletic director's position. Phillips is an Illinois alum and was on the university's short list to replace the retired Ron Guenther.
In a statement, Phillips said he was humbled by the new deal.
"This is an exciting time for Northwestern athletics [because] we are having unprecedented success on the field and in the classroom," Phillips said. "Very sincerely, I am honored to be able to continue working to provide a world-class experience for all of our student-athletes."
Phillips was hired at NU in 2008 after serving as Northern Illinois' athletic director. In his short time at NU, Phillips has put the Wildcats on the national stage with his innovative ideas.
One of his first major projects was spearheading the Illinois-NU football game at Wrigley Field last November. Despite a safety issue that required both offenses to move the ball in the same direction, the Wrigley game still delivered the college bowl-game like atmosphere that Phillips -- and Fitzgerald -- wanted.
Phillips also hired the university's first-ever marketing chief in June 2010 in Mike Polisky, who served as president of the Chicago Wolves and Chicago Rush. Polisky and the athletic department staff were instrumental in launching the Dan Persa for Heisman Trophy campaign which kicked off on Monday. Polisky and Phillips also helped create the "Chicago's Big Ten Team" slogan for NU to start the 2010 football season, which was advertised on billboards, newspapers and radio ads throughout the area.
And Phillips also is working on a facilities study, where he hopes to upgrade all of NU's sports and recreation venues. Phillips spent most of the spring and summer travelling to universities across the country to see how their venues compare with NU's. The athletic department may announce in early fall what the results of that study are, and may bring about major overhauls for Ryan Field and Welsh-Ryan Arena.