Northwestern’s Chris Collins gets three-year extension, hopes ‘not to take steps backward’

Collins knew the Wildcats had to make a move up the Big Ten ranks last season if he was going to be able to count on having a future at the school.

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Northwestern’s Chris Collins coaches during the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

Northwestern’s Chris Collins coaches during the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Northwestern basketball coach Chris Collins knew the Wildcats had to make a move up the Big Ten ranks last season if he was going to be able to count on having a future at the school.

Did it ever work out.

After the Wildcats unexpectedly tied for second place in the conference and reached the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in school history — with Collins sweeping league coach of the year honors — Collins received a three-year contract extension through the 2027-28 season, the school announced Monday.

“I am extremely optimistic about the future of Northwestern men’s basketball under his leadership,” athletic director Derrick Gragg said in a statement.

That’s a far different tone than Gragg took a year ago, when he expressed “disappointment” after the Wildcats’ fifth straight season finishing in 10th place or worse in the league and made it known Collins was on thin ice.

The Wildcats rebounded with a 23-12 season, bringing Collins’ record over 10 years to 156-162.

“Obviously, I have aspirations to continue to try to move the program forward and be competitive and all those things, but we also understand in the Big Ten how difficult that is and how good the programs that we compete against are,” Collins, who has been all but certain since late March that an extension was coming, told the Sun-Times. “I just want to have a program where we feel like year in and year out, we can compete to have a chance to be in the postseason, in March Madness.

“What I want is to be able to not take steps backward.”

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