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25 to 1: How NU leaders and a search committee zeroed in on Trev Alberts
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25 to 1: How NU leaders and a search committee zeroed in on Trev Alberts

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Trev Alberts

Trev Alberts spent 12 years as athletic director at Omaha before being named Nebraska's athletic director Wednesday.

Trev Alberts is announced as the University of Nebraska's athletic director on July 14, 2021.

Ted Carter has a pretty good grasp on how things unfold when it comes to happenings in the University of Nebraska's athletic department.

"Nobody keeps a secret around here," the University of Nebraska system president said Wednesday, only half-joking.

So when Carter and UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green settled on Trev Alberts as Nebraska's newest athletic director, things moved quickly.

The parties had a handshake deal Tuesday night and signed contracts Wednesday morning, shortly before Alberts' 11 a.m. introductory news conference at Memorial Stadium. An email announcing the news conference, one that did not include Alberts' name, went out less than two hours before the event.

And sure enough, Alberts' name surfaced shortly after.

The Husker football legend and Omaha athletic director was always at or near the top of Nebraska's list, Carter and Green said Wednesday. From an initial pool of more than 25 candidates that was eventually whittled down to eight, Alberts continued to stand out.

"Certainly any athletic director that’s going to come to the University of Nebraska has to have a very fundamental understanding of the importance of football; a very fundamental understanding of football," Green said. "Were we automatically saying that the new AD had to be a former player? No. We looked at people who didn’t necessarily come from that background as well.

"But I’m very glad we ended up where we are."

Alberts' full contract details will be released in the coming days, an NU spokesperson said. The new AD's base is a five-year deal worth $800,000 annually.

And just like that, 19 days after Nebraska paid Bill Moos about $3 million to retire, the Huskers have their new leader.

"I’ll tell you that this time around this job was different for me … I had a chance to look at the priorities that the search committee had worked on," Alberts said. "And it was interesting that my interest in applying for and pursuing this job changed dramatically when I saw what was important to the culture of this athletic department because it is exactly what I believe. It was exactly what I lived."

The search advisory committee was an extensive one, featuring members from all over campus.

Football player Austin Allen and women's track athlete Taylor Johnson were included, as were Nebraska luminaries Jordan Burroughs, Ndamukong Suh, Eric Crouch, Peaches James Keaton, Bill Jackman and Darin Erstad.

Charlesette Foster, who is an assistant vice chancellor in Nebraska's student affairs department, and whose sons Jerald and Trey played football at NU, was on the committee.

So, too, was faculty athletics representative Scott Fuess, who co-chaired the committee along with NU professor of law Kristen Blankley, who also serves as Nebraska's faculty chair of the intercollegiate athletics committee.

Women's basketball coach Amy Williams was involved, as was NU chief financial officer John Jentz, regents Tim Clare and Jack Stark, and Tonn Ostergard, the president and CEO of Crete Carrier Corporation and one of the department's biggest boosters.

That committee served to reinforce the things Carter and Green were looking for in the athletic department's new leader.

"It's hard to get a consensus among everybody on anything," Carter said. "But we took this so seriously."

Carter and Green, along with a search firm and that search advisory committee, settled on Alberts over the weekend. 

"You know, 38 years wearing a uniform in the Navy, having flown at Top Gun with a lot of people in combat, and seeing a lot of different things, I've seen some phenomenal leaders, I've seen some not so good leaders," Carter said. "But I feel like I know a great leader when I see one, and we have a great leader here with us today."

That there were already enough good leaders in the athletic department, Alberts said, made the decision to leave Omaha for Lincoln easier for him.

"I was in preparation for looking at this job, looking at the coaching staff that's been assembled, looking at the executive team and everybody that works in this athletic department. It's sort of remarkable," Alberts said. "We have a group of some of the greatest leaders, men and women, at the highest peak of their profession that are part of Husker athletics. It's just so encouraging to me to be able to have an opportunity to work alongside people with such ability that I can learn from and I can grow from."

Alberts was the only person interviewed for the position, Carter said. Nebraska law requires NU only to reveal candidates who were interviewed. The school doesn't have to reveal other candidates, because those candidates did not get an interview.

"But we did the screening to get there. At the end of the day, Trev Alberts was clearly at the top of that list," Carter said. "So we felt very confident that with that single set of interviews, that we had the right candidate."

Time will tell if Alberts is indeed the right person at the right time for the Nebraska athletic department. NU has a massive facilities project underway. A new world of athlete freedoms is here, led by name, image and likeness. Not to mention a football program that pulls the revenue train in Lincoln and has a 12-20 record over the past three seasons.

What the Huskers do have is a leader, and one that the most important decision-makers within the university seem to think is the one to solidify Nebraska's place in the collegiate athletics landscape.

"From my side, I was looking for somebody that’s a leader. But as you all know, athletic director, it’s a very complex position. You need somebody that can be a coach of coaches, understand the staff, that can relate to student-athletes, and certainly here in Husker athletics, football is really, really important," Carter said.

"So it wasn’t a definition for that position having to meet all that, but Trev did that. It just works out. Trev’s a great selection, from my seat."

Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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Husker men's basketball/baseball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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