University of Miami Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst will become the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s next athletic director, when Tom Osborne retires in January, UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said Thursday.
Perlman discussed the announcement in a hastily planned press conference set up after news of the appointment leaked out. The chancellor predicted Eichorst would be a good fit for Nebraska. He said he was “surprised and delighted” to find someone with his all the experiences and talents that were needed. And he said Eichorst has “the characteristics and admiration and respect for the culture of Nebraska, the great success that we’ve had in athletics, and is anxious to carry on that culture and tradition here.”
Eichorst is a Wisconsin native and served as deputy athletics director in Madison before moving to the University of Miami in April of last year. Four months later, that University’s athletic program became engulfed in scandal when news broke of a booster who said he provided players with gifts including cash, prostitutes and jewelry before Eichorst arrived. With the NCAA expected to announce penalties against Miami soon, Perlman was asked if Eichorst was eager to get out of that situation. “It’s probably not a situation that anyone would like to be in,” Perlman said, acknowledging that he had discussed the matter with Eichorst. “I think everyone’s view is that he was surprised by it when he got there; that he responded in the way that I think we would want had a similar situation arose here,” Perlman said, adding “We hope it doesn’t.”
“It’s part of why looking at a person who has been in that role is helpful because you can see how they respond to difficult circumstances,” Perlman said.
Perlman said he regretted the search process was not more public, but the situation required privacy. He said he thinks some people close to the athletic department were disappointed in not having more input, including probably Osborne. Osborne issued a brief written statement promising to do all he could to ensure a smooth transition, but did not comment on Perlman’s statement.
Eichorst will be paid a salary of $973,000 – almost three times Perlman’s salary. Asked the significance of that, Perlman initially quipped that it must say “you’ve got a more talented athletic director than you do a chancellor.” But then he added, more seriously, “That’s the world we live in. You’re subject to a marketplace. And you either play in the marketplace or you don’t play.”
However, he noted that the salary comes entirely from funds generated by the athletic department, and includes no tax, tuition, or student fee money.
Perlman said one key to the appointment was the answer Eichorst gave when asked how he would measure success at the end of his five year contract. “His response was that if the coaches and student athletes have been successful, and nobody knows my name, it’ll be a success.”