Nebraska fired athletic director Shawn Eichorst on Thursday, ending a tenure that began in October 2012. Now the university has to find his replacement.
Here’s what you need to know about it after university chancellor Ronnie Green’s press conference:
Nebraska is using a search firm to find its next athletic director.
Green confimed this in his press conference. Search firms are a hotly contested topic in college sports. A CBS Sports analysis of 11 schools that used search firms after the 2015 season found that the average search firm costs $70,000.
Here’s what they do, from a 2013 ESPN article:
- Handling all calls inquiring about the coaching vacancy
- Reviewing its database with search committee members and providing all members with a private log-in to access the database remotely
- Contacting coaches or agents to request interviews
- Arranging for travel and accommodations for candidates who will be interviewed
- Conducting public records searches — credit, criminal and motor vehicle reports — of all candidates
- Confirming academic degrees
- Receiving a signed statement from candidates confirming information and affirming that nothing else need be disclosed
- Negotiating a contract on behalf of the university
- Receiving signed terms of an agreement from the coaching candidate and all parties before the introductory news conference
As SB Nation’s Matt Brown notes, an athletic department can also do all of these things, and for less money. But search firms specialize in this, and thus are likely better at finding coaches than athletic departments are. How much better are they? That’s certainly up for debate.
Nebraska is using Tom Osborne as a consultant during the search.
Green will use Osborne, who knows more about Nebraska football than just about anyone else, but he’ll use other people too.
“We will be reaching out to those knowledgeable about Husker athletics, as well as those who have run successful college programs around the country,” Green said during a press conference.
Nebraska is hosting football recruits this weekend, and is ready to answer questions those recruits may have.
“We’re going to be working hard to show them the resources and show them mostly importantly the fan base we have and the support we have in that,’ Green said”
“Recruits buy into a program where they are going to graduate in four years, and where you’re going to be competitive.”
The next athletic director will still have autonomy over football personnel decisions.
“The next AD, would they have sole responsibility for decisions over football staff? They certainly will recommend, in like our process works, they recommend to us, we have to approve those hires as well, but we certainly expect them to make those choices.”
This could be interpreted as an ominous sign for Riley and basketball coach Tim Miles, but it’s also just a factual description of the athletic director’s job.
They will still have to pay Eichorst for a while.
Nebraska is now paying Eichorst and Bo Pelini to not work at the university. Eichorst has $1.7 million left on his contract, which goes until June 2019. This isn’t an exorbitant sum of money — it has nothing on Notre Dame paying Charlie Weis $19 to stop coaching the Fighting Irish — but it’s possible it means Nebraska is less likely to spend big on a new athletic director.
Nebraska wants competitiveness and on-field success — in all sports.
“We are talking here about competitiveness. Winning is important, winning can happen and often does in concert with quality, well-run college programs that work to ensure the success of our students academically as well. That’s our expectation.”
And university president Hank Bounds:
“It’s important to recognize that we expect our players, our coaches to compete. Clearly the Northern Illinois issue just occurred, and folks will make what they will out of that. But as the chancellor just mentioned, we expect our teams to compete on every playing surface.”
Both Green and Bounds made no bones about the fact that Nebraska needs to be more competitive in all sports.
“We all know the importance of football in Husker athletics,” Green said. “I’m not going to debate that. We know the importance of it to our brand. The expectations associated with Husker football are high, should be high. But with that said, we also expect greatness in baseball. We expect it in basketball, men’s and women’s basketball, we expect excellence in track and field. We expect excellence in gymnastics, in volleyball. You go down the list.”
Nebraska will name an interim athletic director soon.
Green said he has reached out to some people and hopes to name an interim athletic director in the next few days.