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(CBS) When Illinois Athletic Director Ron Guenther announced he would retire at the end of June, it was only natural for people to speculate that Northwestern Athletic Director Jim Phillips would make a return to his alma mater.
Instead, Phillips, a 1990 graduate of Illinois, agreed to a long-term contract extension with Northwestern, one that will keep him in Evanston through 2020.
LISTEN: Jim Phillips on The Mully and Hanley Show
“Jim Phillips is one of the most talented, energetic and hard-working persons I have ever met,” Northwestern President Morton Schapiro said in a statement. “I predict that, under his leadership, we will achieve even greater athletic success while always remaining true to the academic values that define Northwestern.”
The extension shouldn’t come as a surprise. Since coming to Northwestern in 2008 — after holding the same position at Northern Illinois for four years — Phillips has overseen three straight bowl game appearances in football and three straight NIT appearances in basketball, both of which are firsts in school history. He’s also in the middle of a three phase plan for facility upgrades which football head coach Pat Fitzgerald said would be “the best facilities in the country.”
Phillips’ extension through 2020 coincides with the long-term extension he gave Fitzgerald, which also expires in 2020.