Alberts, Denney interviews shed new light on split


March 18th, 2011

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KVNO News’ Ben Bohall contributed to this report

Omaha, NE – The decision by the University of Nebraska at Omaha to recommend football and wrestling be eliminated has stirred controversy throughout the campus and community. Particularly controversial is the cut to the wrestling program, one of UNO’s most successful athletics teams.

UNO wrestling Coach Mike Denney says Trev Alberts never asked for his input on the move to Division I (Photo credit Joe Shearer/The Gateway)

KVNO News’ exclusive interviews with wrestling Coach Mike Denney and Athletics Director Trev Alberts this week shed new light on the relationship between the two men.

When Trev Alberts accepted the position of Athletics Director at UNO in 2009, he stated a clear vision of taking the University to the highest level of NCAA competition: Division 1. On Sunday, March 13, he announced that vision was no longer over the horizon. UNO would recommend to the University of Nebraska of Board of Regents that they accept an invitation to the Summit League, a division one conference. This would be the realization of Alberts’ driving idea. This week, in an interview with KVNO News’ Ben Bohall, Alberts said that at least one coach didn’t see the future exactly as he did.

“He made it well known on many occasions to me that he was not supportive of a move to Division I,” Alberts said, “and really felt like it would impair his ability to win national championships.”

The coach Alberts spoke of was wrestling coach Mike Denney. But Denney said he feels he may have been misunderstood by administrators.

“I think what was taken wrong by that is that I’m not against Division I,” Denney said. “I’m against the moratorium that you have to go through before you can be eligible to compete in the championships.”

UNO Athletic Director Trev Alberts (left) says Coach Denney made his resistance to Division I well known (Photo credit Joe Shearer/The Gateway)

The moratorium states that a school moving to Division I can’t compete in championship events for a span of four years. The difference in opinion about the move to a higher level of competition undoubtedly put strain on the relationship, but there were other issues. Alberts was a driving force behind UNO’s The One Fund, a reformed way of donating to the athletic department. It was a way to unify the donations that came in and streamline the process. Alberts said Coach Denney was initially skeptical.

“I think that he probably had more questions than the average coach,” Alberts said. “Because, quite frankly, he and the booster club for wrestling, was more active. So I think he wanted to ensure that the funds that were raised for the booster club for wrestling actually went to benefit wrestling.”

Coach Denney admitted he wanted leeway to raise funds his own way.

“You do not have to give us more any money in our budget. Just allow us to raise money, allow us to do our thing.”

Even now, there are discrepancies on why the decision to drop wrestling was made. Alberts reiterated a point he made at the initial press conference announcing the decision, saying that dropping wrestling better aligns the University with the new conference.

“So then we started a hard look at the Summit League and what its championship offerings were,” he said, “and what sports that they sponsored on the championship level within the conference structure, and recognized that both football and wrestling were not offered as part of the championship sports.”

Coach Denney said he was given a different explanation as to why the program could no longer be sustained.

“For us to keep wrestling and to keep it at a championship level, they would have had to give us a lot more money.”

The decision has roused emotion from the community and the student body, both for and against. Alberts said the decision was not made without intense consideration.

“You have to have some feel, from not only the community, from those that ultimately make decisions whether we’re on the right track. And those individual conversations were supportive.”

But Coach Denney said he wished he’d been a part of the discussion.

“Not once was I ever asked for my side of it, my wisdom, my knowledge,” Denney said. “Not once, have I ever been in this whole time did he ever come down, and sit down and say, what do you think of this?”

For now, the fate of a wrestling program, and moreover, a University, lies in the hands of the 8 members of the Board of Regents. The Board has set a public hearing on the issue for Friday, March 25th in Lincoln.

For the full interview with Trev Alberts and Coach Denney, click here: Web Extras.

32 Responses

  1. just amazing says:

    Trev Alberts is a lunatic. His teams can’t even win conference championships in D2 and the guy wants to become a D1 basketball powerhouse? What a joke.

  2. Wow says:

    Trev Alberts has no clue what he is doing! He will ruin UNO and then look for another college to ruin! He is so arrogant and has absolutely no reason to be! He was a bust as a player, announcer, and now he is a bust as an AD! He is about to cut a wrestling program that has won 6 out of the last 8 National Championships! Nice thinking! Way to go Trev!

    • tommy says:

      Do any of you Trev haters even know what it takes to be an AD or the real financial stituation that UNO is facing? Quit putting emotions into this decision and look at the FACTS. Leaders are put into these postions to make tough decisions, and this is one of them. It is probably the correct one so quit bashing people who make it and take your whining with all the other losers on this forum.

      • s says:

        Funny you say to look at the facts, I believe you better take a closer look..

        • Michael Roselles says:

          Tommy, I think you should take your own advice and check the facts. The AD in this situation has let his EGO make his decisions.

  3. Tim says:

    How convenient for the Board to hold public hearings in Lincoln on a Friday when it’s not feasible for most supporters of either program to be able to attend. Goes to show the real motive.

  4. Randy says:

    As far as I am concerned, anyone who can say their operating budget has not increased in 32 years needs to be running the entire University’s finances. That would be Coach Mike Denney, sometimes you just have to spell it out for them.

  5. Summit League says:

    Trev wants to drop wrestling and football to move into a league that has a reputation as being one of the worst leagues in division I.
    His projections of how the school will raise revenue through ticket sales states that during the 2012 season basketball will make 75,000 dollars in ticket sales and that number will double the next year to 150,000. Nobody comes to watch basketball at UNO now, why would they go to watch UNO get handled by other terrible division I schools. He’s saying that they will have sell out crowds when they play teams like Oral Roberts and IUPUI during the years of the moratorium when the teams have no hope for a post-season and the only recruits they can pull in are everyone else’s walk-ons. You don’t go to watch your home team get embarrassed, you go to see something great happen or see them take their shot at becoming the best. Trev Alberts is basically saying he is gonna double the amount of support for an intramural basketball team that has absolutely no chance of going to the show or even playing any post season. TREV IS ABOUT TO TURN UNO ATHLETICS INTO A COMPLETE JOKE! WAKE UP UNO!

  6. MavFan says:

    I support Trev’s Decision…. National championships or not you have to cut the teams that arent brining in any revenue. This is sports, yes. But first and foremost its a business… At some point you have to remove emotion and cut your losses. Otherwise you put your whole business, in this case, the university in jeopardy

    • jimmie says:

      If it is true to cut teams that aren’t bringing in revenue, you would have to cut hockey and the majority of the other sports at UNO.

    • Paul says:

      Jimmie was too kind… Of the 14 schools that Avery and Associates compared UNO to, 6 of those had sport budgets that were in the red… deep red. The average amount of help that was given to the programs from student fees and other allocations AVERAGED $7.2 million a program. No Football team, no wrestling team, and no mens soccer team made money. The fact is that almost every sport at every DII institution loses money. So why are we replacing wrestling with soccer and golf if they are on average just as big a money loser as wrestling? This info is from the addendum that is listed on the FAQ page on the OMAVS site.

  7. Alum says:

    Trev Alberts has saved this athletic program. Either we keep wrestling and football and stay Div II, and in 4-5 years we can shut down the whole athletic program. Or we can take some initiative and move to Div I and create a stable athletic program. Not an easy decision, but it had to be made. Denney may be a great coach, and a great human being, but it is clear from the statements above he is only concerned with the well being of the wrestling program, and not the athletic program as a whole

  8. Tim says:

    The move to Division I is a wise one. Division II success in basketball has no bearing on future Division I success because they’ll be recruiting completely different players. With that said, the decision to drop wrestling is just plain dumb and I have yet to hear a good explanation for the move. There’s no way soccer and golf (the sports replacing wrestling) will operate on the small amount of money it takes to run the UNO wrestling program. Not only are they cost-efficient, they win championships!!

  9. Unreal says:

    So he never even gave him a chance? Never sat Denney down and said, “we are going Division I whether you like it or not, now let’s find a way to do this and keep your sport.” He never even gave him a chance to try and find a way to make the supposed numbers work.

  10. brett scolari says:

    Even though Mike wasn’t consulted, from other reports and interviews it is apparent that he was never supportive of Division I, and this is because he wouldn’t win championships at that level. From the tone of the article, it is apparent that Mr. Denney wanted to do his own thing which is typical of successful programs that haven’t had to make concessions. UNO is making the right move at the right time. UNO is a Division I school and athletics needs to be representative of that. Also, this wasn’t Trev’s decision (it was a recommendation), instead it was the Chancellor’s decision,,,,he’s the boss.

  11. Good luck! says:

    Trev Alberts is absolutely crazy! Why would he make such a rash decision. It looks like he is doing this all for self-recognition. This was not a decision for the better of the college, community, or the student population at UNO. If this was a master plan to eventually take over Athletic Director position at UNL, you have miserably failed Trev. Hopefully, you get a position as an athletic director far, far away from Nebraska!

  12. dana says:

    Alberts was, is, and always will be a bust. Has ESPN done a piece on this news? Whoever put him in charge was out of their mind. Was so glad to see him gone from espn

  13. John says:

    Couple of things what facts does Marv have to support the rise in attendance of basketball games. Also the Summit does not have Hockey so why are they not being dropped?

  14. ed says:

    The combined one fund idea by Trev sounds like another way to hide transparency within the athletic department. I can understand the football issue in Division 1. UNO would also have to invest in new facilities to meet the minimum seating required for division 1 events. But I still scratch my head. Can anyone tell me why Trev is driving a new white mercedes benz with State of Nebraska government plates on it? Isn’t this a bit over the edge? According to Dave Sokol, the Regents alraedy have blessed the plan. Please write your Regent and tell them to reconsider thier vote for the Wrestling Team. They are actually the only National award winning team UNO has produced in the last 15 years.

  15. Melissa Stan says:

    As a booster and volunteer, I have been to almost every UNO sporting event. I have seen the AD, the Asst. AD, sometimes the chancellor at the same events. Trev and Chancellor must be BLIND…. there are little crowds at ALL the UNO sports. Most of these small crowds are parents and very few students!!!!
    Hockey does draw the only significant crowd and they are already in D1. I can guarantee you that the lack of fan base is not going to get better at D1 for any of the UNO sports!!!!
    Until the more students and Omaha residents get involved, by attending UNO sports, nothing is going to change!!!! Take the blinders off, get real, D1 is a bad move!!!!!!!!

  16. Brian says:

    Has any team in this Summit league ever won a NCAA D1 national title in anything? I’ve never heard of The Summit League. Football and wrestling get dropped to add soccer and golf? Sounds like a real rugged conference. I’m sure these sports are going to be huge money makers for UNO. Is there one university in the country that makes money from these two sports? I would like to know. Can the press ask Trev that simple question.

  17. PK says:

    If they cut all sports that did not bring in revenue, then they should be looking at sports at UNL also, such as gymnastics, track, etc, why just UNO. UNO is not the only university in NE that has this problem. Trev is unfortunately our AD though and what a bad decision that was! We needed to find an AD that knew what to do to bring the revenue in and promote all the teams. Not just Hockey.

  18. William T. McCann says:

    In his Mar. 13 World Herald column, Tom Shatel stated that UNO’s identity is now Division 1 basketball. The Mar. 20 Phil Mushnick sports column (N.Y. Post) points out that “The Knight Commission claims that schools that graduated fewer than 50 percent of its male basketball players received $179 million — most of it TV money –from their NCAA Tournament appearances, the last five years.” SDSU was identified along with Syracuse, Kansas State and Purdue as having the worst on-track-to-graduate record in the NCAA Tournament. His article states that many ball players will, “simply call it quits, not even return to their campuses, let alone attend class, the moment their team is eliminated or wins the NCAA Tournament or NIT. Is this what is wanted instead of student/athletes? Shatel’s article also states that “two great friends of Omaha, UNO football and Mav wrestling, be left behind.” I suggest that we leave no one behind -especially a good friend!

  19. Rob says:

    This legitimately makes me sick.

    Alberts should be fire and banned from ever stepping foot on a college campus again for this blatantly self serving and personally vindictive move.


    Jesus, the sport doesn’t cost anything!

  20. Brian says:

    The mission statement that athletic departments put out are a joke. It’s not about being a student athlete. It’s about trying to make a ton of money off the backs of college kids. College athletics used to be about turning young men and women into healthy leaders. Now they would rather pay coaches multi-million dollar salaries. The only way they can pay these salaries is by eliminating opportunities for athletes like wrestlers to save money. They just pumped the money “saved” into bloated salaries for the glory boy sports. Let me guess, the basketball coaches are going to get huge raises now.

  21. Aaron says:

    Trev has done such a great job….Might I suggest an employment opportunity for him at either Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn State?

    Also, I think Steve Pederson sould be considered for athletic director employment at the previously mentioned schools.

    The truth will set you free Trev

  22. Airborne says:

    Can’t wait to see how much more student body UNO will atract to a school who prides on their Div 1 Golf.

    This Mr Trev Alberts is no Tom Osborne,a man who knows when and how to make tough choices.

    This was no real tough choice for him, else he would’ve had the guts to talk to both coaches affected before landing the decision.

  23. AL PALLONE says:


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