Alberts confronts controversy head-on
July 22nd, 2011
Omaha, NE – UNO’s Athletic Director has taken a lot of heat from fans and athletes this year. After cutting two popular athletic programs to move UNO to Division I, Trev Alberts took the brunt of the backlash. KVNO sports Reporter Brandon McDermott sat down with Alberts for a one-on-one interview to discuss the transition, and the aftermath.
Trev Alberts has dealt with many obstacles in his time. The former Butkus award-winner got on the field with a dislocated elbow in the National Title game against Florida State in 1994. As a sports commentator in 2005, he made waves after a highly-publicized split with ESPN. And as the Mavericks’ Athletic Director, he’s faced harsh criticism of his methods and motives after a controversial call to cut UNO’s football and wrestling programs earlier this year. But Alberts said the backlash from fans and athletes hasn’t only affected him.
“There were some difficult days, both personally and professionally,” Alberts said. “Not just for me, but our whole staff.”
After an injury-filled three-year career in the NFL, and his work as a sports broadcaster, Alberts found himself with an offer to run an entire Athletics department – at UNO. It’s a job he relished, though there were cons. Alberts noted that the changing ways of college athletics is one of the downfalls of leading an athletic department.
“I remember being in meetings with a number of the athletic directors from a number of the institutions not joining us,” Alberts said, “and they talked very openly about their frustration with college athletics.”
“It’s all becoming about money,” stressed Alberts. “And they’re right, they are absolutely right.”
The moves to cut the programs were made to allow UNO to make the jump to Division 1, from Division 2. It is not just the win and loss records that matter, Alberts said. It is how much revenue you bring back to your respected university.
“If we finish the next year or two, or three and we win the conference in all 16 sports, and I go to the Chancellor and I say ‘John, we won a conference championship in all 16 sports, but I need an extra $400,000 because I am over budget, I am a failure,” said Alberts. “In the day and age in which we live, these are the realities of what I face today.”
Cutting football and wrestling were realities that had to happen in order to keep UNO a viable athletic department, Alberts said. Criticisms about the cuts have hit home at times, he said, but he hoped the fans will cool when they see the changes. Part of the controversy also stemmed from a belief by some fans that Alberts was trying to put himself in line to succeed UNL’s AD, Tom Osborne.
“I don’t know that I could do that job, having been at UNO, we have a $10 million budget,” said Alberts. “This is a really hard job. If you are asking me if I am proud of my alma mater, or proud to be a UNL graduate, and proud to be a Cornhusker, I am. The core of who I am was formulated by my mother and father then taken to another level by Coach Osborne. I didn’t set out to take the UNO job, to position myself. One of the great things coach Osborne taught us was to be finishers. We intend to finish here. I am happy with the job I have now, and I am happy to be here.”
Alberts said that despite everything he’s been through, he’s still excited about the change. And said he is here for the long haul.
“What’s happening on this campus, what’s happening with the interaction with the community and business leaders, is so remarkable,” Alberts said, “the potential, the growth and momentum here is unmatched. Our chancellor has great vision, and is passionate about making UNO a leading metropolitan campus. And it’s pretty fun to be around that.”