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Nebraska national championship celebration, 12/17

Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook talks about the Huskers' run to the national championship on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, during a celebration at Devaney Sports Center.

In the seven months since Bill Moos became Nebraska's athletic director, he's had lots of praise for Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook. 

Now Moos has showed Cook how he feels about the job Cook's doing, with a raise for the four-time national champion coach.

Cook will soon be making $675,000 annually — a raise of $75,000 from last season — according to a copy of his contract obtained by the Journal Star. The contract was also extended one year and covers the next five seasons.

Cook, 62, has reached the point in his career when recruits, or their parents, ask him how long he’s going to be coaching. His answer is that he has an updated five-year plan for the  volleyball program, and he plans to coach at least that long.

Since becoming head coach at NU in 2000, Cook has led the Huskers to four NCAA titles, including a somewhat unexpected one last year. That was the second national championship in three years for the Huskers. Cook has also won 12 conference championships at Nebraska.

Among the most impressive stats during Cook’s NU tenure is that the Huskers have reached at least the third round of the NCAA Tournament in 17 of his 18 seasons, including eight Final Fours.

Cook’s record at NU is 531-69, a winning percentage of .885. He’s coached 23 first-team All-Americans, and NU players have gone on to have success as professional volleyball players. There were three ex-Huskers on the last Olympic team.

Moos has been impressed with the volleyball program and Cook. Nebraska’s 2017 national championship was the first national title for Moos in his time as an athletic administrator.

“What I really like about (Cook) is, he has reinvested in his success and sustained it at such an elite level,” Moos said recently. “It’s tougher to do that than it is to get there in the first place.”

Cook last received a raise in 2016, when then-AD Shawn Eichorst gave him a big bump from $456,000 to $600,000.

He’s probably the highest-paid college volleyball coach in the country, according to contracts collected by the Journal Star. The only coach who could command a similar salary is Penn State's Russ Rose — he’s got seven national titles — but Penn State is not required to release salary figures for its employees.

Thanks to the nearly 8,000 fans who buy tickets for Husker home matches, Nebraska is one of the few college volleyball programs that generates a profit.

This spring, Cook gave Moos a copy of his five-year plan for the program. It details everything from fan experience to academic goals to Cook’s goals of having top-five recruiting classes and winning national championships.

“I want our program to continue to grow, and not just stay status quo, because I think if you do, then we’re going to be in trouble. So I want to keep pushing this program to new levels,” Cook said.

Cook’s raise was finalized earlier this month, at about the same time third-year Nebraska women’s basketball coach Amy Williams also got a raise. She’ll be making $626,750, up $51,000 from last season.

Nationally, coaching salaries for women’s basketball coaches have exceed those of volleyball coaches. At many schools, the women’s basketball coach makes more than the volleyball coach.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.


Sports reporter

Brent has worked at the Journal Star for 14 years. His beats include Nebraska volleyball, women's basketball and high school soccer and cross country.

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