Nov. 9, 2010
Complete Maxwell Football Club Release (PDF Format)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald has been named one of 15 finalists for the inaugural Joseph V. Paterno Award for Coach of the Year, announced Monday by Ron Jaworski, president of the Maxwell Football Club.
To honor the spirit of Coach Paterno's persona, the winner is based on success on the football field, in the classroom and in the community. The three finalists for the award will be announced on Monday, Dec. 6. The formal announcement of the award will be made on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010. A special Maxwell Football Club Advisory Committee will make the selections.
Northwestern is bowl eligible for the fourth-straight year under Fitzgerald -- a first in school history. The Wildcats competed in the 2008 Alamo Bowl and the 2010 Outback Bowl on New Year's Day after earning 17 combined wins between the two seasons.
Off the field, the Wildcats are enjoying unprecedented academic success. The past four years, Northwestern has set program-bests with 16 Academic All-Big Ten selections in 2006, 18 in 2007, 26 in 2008 and a school-record 29 in 2009. And for the second time in as many years, the football team registered a combined team grade point average above a 3.0 for the 2010 winter quarter. A school-record 60 football student-athletes recorded a 3.0 or better GPA for the winter term.
In addition, Northwestern continues to lead or rank near the top of the country in annual graduation rate. Four times since 2002, Northwestern has captured the AFCA's Academic Achievement Award, which is given to the top FBS football program for graduation rate. In the NCAA's most recent Academic Progress Rate (APR) report, Northwestern recorded a perfect 1,000 APR index -- the newest NCAA academic measuring statistic.
But the Northwestern student-athlete experience under Fitzgerald is not complete until one makes a significant contribution to the campus and Evanston communities, which is why so many of Fitzgerald's players have been recognized for what they've managed to give back. Fitzgerald, his family and his players partake in countless charitable events in the area, including NU's annual campus-wide Dance Marathon. 2009 graduate Eric Peterman received the National ARA Sportsmanship Award (a Wildcat has been one of 10 finalists for the honor in each of the last three years) for his off-the-field efforts. A number of Wildcats have been named NU's Hilton Garden Inn Community Service Athlete of the Week for their contributions to toy drives, health and wellness programs in elementary schools and other local initiatives.