Osborne to retire from Husker post

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September 26th, 2012

Omaha, NE – University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Director and former Nebraska Head Football Coach Tom Osborne said he will retire at the end of this year.

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At a press conference in Lincoln Wednesday, Osborne announced the end of his five-year run as athletic director at Nebraska, but said he would stay on the job through the end of the year. Osborne also said he plans to support his successor in any way he can for about six months after the hire is made. Osborne, 75, called this the right time. “At some point, whether you are able to function or not, just the perception that you are getting old can get in the way,” Osborne said. “I don’t want to be one of those guys that everybody is walking around wringing their hands trying to figure out ‘Well what are we going to do with him?”

Tom Osborne announced his retirement at a press conference in Lincoln Wednesday. (Photo courtesy UNL)

Osborne was named interim athletic director by UNL chancellor Harvey Perlman in October 2007 after former AD Steve Pederson was fired. The interim status was removed in December of the same year and the title was made permanent. Before becoming athletic director, Osborne served as head coach at Nebraska for 25 years, leading the football team to three national titles and a whopping 255 wins. Perlman called it a privilege to work with Osborne and said Osborne has overseen major advancements in NU athletics facilities in the past five years, including an expansion of Memorial Stadium, a new home for Husker basketball and major renovations to the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

“He certainly stabilized the department,” Perlman said. “He has hired several very promising coaches; he has brought our facilities to a new level.”

“It was obviously fun to work with him in moving Nebraska to the Big Ten,” Perlman added, “it wouldn’t have happened without his support.”

Perlman said Osborne’s reputation within the coaching community will be hard to replace. He said Nebraskans, as much as they love him, don’t quite understand the respect Osborne garners nationally. Above all Perlman said the day was about Tom Osborne. “We should, and we will, celebrate his accomplishments,” Perlman said.

“We will appreciate his over 40 years of service to the University, and we should respect his explanation to the decision he has made today.”

Perlman added Osborn “will be a part of this athletic department for as long as he wants to be because he is a real treasure.”

The process of hiring a replacement for Osborne has already begun, Perlman said, but wouldn’t give a time table on when that would be complete. Perlman said he has hired Jed Hughes of Korn/Ferry International as a national search consultant to assist.

Well wishes poured in from around the state after Osborne’s announcement. In a statement, Gov. Dave Heineman called Osborne the “greatest collegiate football coach of all time” and said he “restored trust, confidence and stability” in Husker Athletics when he took the helm five years ago.

U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson also issued a statement saying “Nebraska is a far better place because of the good work done by this living legend.” Nelson, who said he’s known Osborne since the two were fellow students at the University of Nebraska, added “This humble, soft-spoken man who has national respect…will forever be in our hearts as a role model inspiring generations of Nebraskans yet to come.” U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns added Osborne “has made a profound and positive impact on countless student-athletes and all Nebraskans.”

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