DeKALB, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) [NIU news release]– Northern Illinois University and head football coach Thomas Hammock have agreed to a contract extension which will keep the NIU alumnus at the helm of the Huskie football program through the 2026-27 academic year, NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier announced Tuesday.

Hammock’s 2021 NIU team enters Wednesday night’s game versus Ball State with a 6-3 overall record and stands atop the Mid-American Conference West Division with a 4-1 record. Behind a roster composed of 75 first- or second-year players, the Huskies have won five one-score games, including a season-opening “boneyard” win over Georgia Tech.

“Under Coach Hammock, our program has made tremendous strides forward – competitively, academically and socially,” Frazier said. “We are seeing the tangible results of that progress on the field this year, and over the past two years, we have seen it in the record-setting team GPA, and the commitment to doing things the right way on and off the field. As a former player and alumnus, Thomas is invested in this university, in this athletic department and in this community. He is very deserving of this contract extension, and we look forward to continuing the upward trajectory of NIU Football.”

Hammock expressed appreciation for the confidence Frazier and NIU President Lisa Freeman have shown in him  

“My family and I appreciate the opportunity to be at NIU and to lead this football program and be a part of the university community that has meant so much to us,” Hammock said. “Since I got here in 2019, the leadership of President Freeman, Sean Frazier and [Deputy Athletic Director] John Cheney has been amazing. This extension is another sign of the confidence they have in me and in our staff as we continue to build and grow this program.”

Hammock took over the reins of the Huskie football program in January 2019 after five seasons as running backs coach with the Baltimore Ravens and previous collegiate coaching experience at NIU, Minnesota and Wisconsin. A two-time Academic All-American at running back for NIU in 2000 and 2001, Hammock has emphasized academics, accountability and hard work while developing players physically and mentally. Under his guidance, the Huskies have recorded the top three academic semesters in program history with a cumulative team GPA above 3.0 each term.

After a 5-7 season in his initial campaign at NIU in 2019, he guided the Huskies through an 0-6 COVID-19 shortened season in 2020, played without benefit of a full spring or preseason practices. Three of the losses came in one-score games. NIU did not cancel any games and no player or staff member contracted COVID during the season as player health and safety was prioritized.

This year, with a roster re-built through recruiting and developing young players, NIU has turned those one-score losses into victories as three of the Huskies’ six wins have come by one or two points.

“As an alum, I’m very proud to lead this program,” Hammock said. “I love the young men on our team, I love our staff and I love the direction we’re headed.”