NCAA Talk

Packers expected to request interview with Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald

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Packers expected to request interview with Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald

Brace yourself, Northwestern and Bears football fans. This might be tough to hear.

According to multiple reports, the Packers are expected to request an interview with Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald for Green Bay's head coaching vacancy. The request is expected to come after Northwestern plays in the Holiday Bowl on Monday, according to ESPN.

As NFL Network's Ian Rapoport noted, a connection exists between Fitzgerald and the Bears' long-time rival. Before becoming CEO of the Packers, Mark Murphy, who was Northwestern's Athletic Director from 2003-07, hired Fitzgerald as a coach.

Fitzgerald signed a contract-extension with Northwestern in April 2017 that runs through 2026 football season. The Packers interviewing Fitzgerald is not a guarantee that they will hire him. However, the thought of the long-time Northwestern coach sporting "rival" colors surely will not rest easy with Chicago football fans.

DePaul hands men’s basketball coach Dave Leitao extension through 2023-24

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DePaul hands men’s basketball coach Dave Leitao extension through 2023-24

DePaul announced Thursday they’ve extended the contract of men’s basketball coach Dave Leitao through 2023-24. Terms weren’t disclosed.

“We are happy to reach an agreement to continue the improvement and stability that Coach Leitao has instilled in our men’s basketball program,” athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said in a press release. “His vision of academic excellence, athletic excellence and community service mirrors DePaul’s mission in developing outstanding student-athletes and future leaders in our society.”

Leitao just wrapped up his fifth season in his second go-around as DePaul’s head coach. The Blue Demons started off hot, going 12-1 in non-conference play while picking up wins over Iowa, Minnesota and Texas Tech.

They struggled mightily in Big East play, going 4-15 with wins over then-No. 5 Butler, and later Xavier in the Big East tournament, prior to it being canceled due to COVID-19.

Fans and alumni have grown increasingly restless as DePaul has failed to move up from the cellar of the Big East. They’re 64-98 overall the last five seasons, finishing last in conference three times. Their best finish came in 2018-19, when they went 7-11 and tied for eighth.

Last season, Leitao led DePaul to its first postseason berth since 2007, resulting in a second-place finish in the College Basketball Invitational tournament. 

Leitao has acquired some talented players the past few seasons, including transfers Max Strus (now a two-way guard/forward with the Bulls) and point guard Charlie Moore (formerly of Cal-Berkeley and Kansas). Forward Paul Reed is a potential 2020 NBA draft first-round pick. 

Leitao's 2019-20 recruiting class ranked 34th nationally, according to 247 Sports. Forward Romeo Weems (Michigan Mr. Basketball) and guard Markese Jacobs (Uplift) headlined the group.

“I appreciate DePaul athletics director Jean Lenti Ponsetto for her continued support,” Leitao said. “The process of laying the foundation for sustained success evolved into a strong start to this season before a tough run through the conference schedule.

"I’m proud of the resilience of our players and staff to finish the season strong before all of our lives were interrupted with the coronavirus outbreak. The response we received from our fans and supporters all season was outstanding and we can’t wait to continue to build excitement at Wintrust Arena in the future.”

NCAA announces an extra year of eligibility for spring athletes

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NCAA announces an extra year of eligibility for spring athletes

The NCAA announced Monday evening they will allow spring athletes an extra year of eligibility after the spring season was upended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After the announcement was made, many fans immediately noticed that this was only for spring athletes (baseball, softball, lacrosse, etc.) and not for winter athletes. Winter athletes, including basketball, had their seasons suddenly cut short as the pandemic dramatically increased in severity in February and March, right as these teams were entering postseason play.

In their official statement, the NCAA cited excluding winter athletes from the extension because their regular season had either ended or had been nearly completed. 

Winter sports were not included in the decision. Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.