Osborne to retire, Perlman pursues search for new A.D.

Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Activities Director Tom Osborne share a laugh during the Sept. 26 announcement at Memorial Stadium.
Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Activities Director Tom Osborne share a laugh during the Sept. 26 announcement at Memorial Stadium.

University of Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne announced Sept. 26 his plan to retire Jan. 1, 2013. At 75, Osborne — who retired as Nebraska's head football coach in 1998 and who has led the Husker Athletic Department for the past five years — will step down as athletic director.

Osborne will become athletic director emeritus. He will continue to be actively involved in Athletic Department operations through July 30, 2013.

Watch a video of the announcement at http://go.unl.edu/osborne_retires.

"It has been a pleasure and an honor to work in the Athletic Department for the past five years," Osborne said. "I hope that there have been some good things that have been accomplished during that time. I appreciate Chancellor Perlman giving me this opportunity. I've had the privilege of working with some outstanding people in the Athletic Department and have confidence that the trajectory of the Athletic Department is very good."

Chancellor Harvey Perlman said it has been a privilege to work with Osborne.

"The move into the Big Ten could not have happened without Tom's support," Perlman said. "He has made the facilities stronger and has expanded the department's role in assisting students through the student life center. He has been instrumental in incorporating research facilities into the athletics complex that build on the department’s reputation for innovation.

"The university and the state of Nebraska are in his debt for the many contributions he has made to both over the course of his career."

Perlman has begun a search for Osborne's replacement as director of intercollegiate athletics in order to have a new person in the position by 2013.

Osborne returned to his Husker roots on Oct. 16, 2007, to become the 13th athletic director at the University of Nebraska. He accepted the position at the time because, Osborne said, "Harvey Perlman asked me."

Husker athletics and the university have seen unprecedented growth in facilities over the past five years. Osborne is overseeing three major athletics construction projects: the development of the Pinnacle Bank Arena (a city of Lincoln project), home to the Husker basketball programs upon its completion in fall 2013; the East Memorial Stadium expansion project, to expand seating capacity of the stadium to 92,000 and accommodate the development of a health/athletics performance research facility and a Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior research, (also by fall 2013); and planning major renovations to the Bob Devaney Sports Center for volleyball, set to begin in 2013. He oversaw the development of the Hendricks Training Complex (which opened in October 2011) and the development of the Student Life Complex in the West Memorial Stadium in 2009, the Haymarket Park Indoor Practice Facility for baseball and softball (2011) and the Alloy Strength Complex (2011).

Holder of master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Nebraska in educational psychology, Osborne said he probably would not have considered coaching if he had not met Bob Devaney, who in 1962 asked him to become a volunteer graduate assistant on his staff. He served 25 years as head football coach at Nebraska, 1972 to 1997 — the longest tenure in school history. Under Osborne's direction, the program achieved remarkable success, exceeding any in its rich history. The Huskers mounted a 255-49-3 record under Osborne, good for a winning percentage of .836 and won three national championships (1994, 1995, 1997). The 255 victories are the sixth-most all-time among major college football coaches while the winning percentage ranks fifth all-time. He announced his retirement from coaching prior to defeating Tennessee in the 1998 Orange Bowl for Nebraska's fifth national title.

His achievements were so highly regarded that the National Football Foundation waived its three-year waiting period so that he could be inducted into its Hall of Fame in December of 1998. He is one of only four coaches in history to have the mandatory three-year waiting period waived.

As athletic director, Osborne quietly re-established an athletic department mission based on five core values — integrity, trust, respect, teamwork and loyalty.

Since 2007, Osborne has hired six head coaches: Bo Pelini (football), 2008; Chuck Chmelka (men's gymnastics), 2009; Darin Erstad (baseball), 2011; Dave Harris (cross country), 2012; Tim Miles (men's basketball), 2012; and Stacy Underwood (rifle), 2012.

Retiring from football coaching following the 1997 season, Osborne found several ways to stay active in his home state. His most visible post-coaching foray came in the political arena, as he served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from Nebraska's 3rd District from 2000 to 2006. He also made a gubernatorial bid in 2006 before turning to academia.

A native of Hastings, Osborne served as a senior lecturer at Nebraska in the College of Business Administration, teaching leadership and business ethics, in the spring and fall semesters in 2007. He completed the fall semester while working in the athletic department.

Widely known for his leadership, integrity, honor and compassion, Osborne has poured time and effort into building a unique mentoring program within the state. The TeamMates program, founded by Osborne and his wife, Nancy, in 1991, provides support and encouragement to school-aged youth with the goal of seeing children graduate from high school and pursue a post-secondary education. He said he would use his retirement to become more active in TeamMates.

In the classroom, Osborne's teams were just as successful as they were on the field. At the time of his retirement, he accumulated more football Academic All-Americans in his 25 years as coach than any other football program in the nation had produced in its history. Under Osborne's guidance, the Husker football program totaled 65 CoSIDA Academic All-America awards in 25 years, averaging more than two selections per season.

— Kelly Bartling, University Communications

More details at: http://go.unl.edu/osborne_retires