Despite a third consecutive season with at least 20 losses, the first time that’s ever happened in the Nebraska men’s basketball program, Fred Hoiberg will return as head coach next year, per his athletic director Trev Alberts.
Alberts broke the news about Hoiberg on his monthly radio show on ‘Sports Nightly’ Thursday night, but noted Hoiberg’s contract will be restructured, just like it was with Scott Frost on the football side. Hoiberg’s salary will drop from $3.5 million to $3.25 million and he’ll give up his $500,000 stay bonus. His buyout is now reduced from $18.5 to $11 million.
There will also be similar metrics like Frost has with Alberts, but those will stay confidential as well.
“The reality is that both of us agree that the results are just unacceptable,” Alberts said. “Coach Hoiberg is frustrated just like everybody else, but we’ve worked through a lot of different scenarios, and I think the thing that’s important for people to know, and I know we still have some games to play, is that Fred will be back as our coach.”
Alberts has met with Hoiberg often, and in those meetings Alberts wanted plans and a vision for the men’s program from Hoiberg. Alberts said he liked what he heard.
“He presented a plan to me, and ultimately sold that plan to me,” Alberts said. “He’s agreed to restructure his contract, which I think is really important. Fred really likes it here, Fred wants to be here. I’ve known Fred for a long time, he was with Indianapolis while I was with the Colts. He was actually playing while I was doing a lot of watching, he was with the Pacers. But Fred’s built successful teams, I’ve watched him do that.”
Nebraska released statements from both Alberts and Hoiberg following the news, with Alberts’ statement closely mirroring what he said on the radio.
“Over the past few weeks, I have had several productive meetings with Coach Hoiberg, and we agree the results of our team are not acceptable,” Alberts said in the statement. “No one is more disappointed or frustrated than Fred Hoiberg. I have known Fred for a long time and watched him build and lead successful teams.
“Fred has presented a plan to me that I believe is in the best long-term interest of the Nebraska Athletic Department and our men’s basketball program. Additionally, Fred has agreed to restructure his contract to help us make the changes that are necessary to reorient our program. I believe in Fred and look forward to working with him as he executes his vision for the future of Nebraska men’s basketball.”
A statement from Hoiberg was also included in the release from the university, with Hoiberg echoing much of what Alberts said.
“As I said when I was hired three years ago, it is an honor to be the men’s basketball coach at the University of Nebraska, and I am excited to continue to lead the Husker program. This has always been a special place to me and my family, and we have grown to love the Lincoln community in our time here.
“I appreciate the confidence that Trev Alberts and University leadership has shown in me. Our results on the court have not been what anyone would have hoped, but I am more committed than ever to building a successful basketball program at Nebraska.”
Alberts was also asked about Amy Williams’ women’s basketball program, which is 21-7 overall and 10-7 in Big Ten play. The program is going through a rough patch off the court, however, as assistant coach Chuck Love is suspended with pay while starting guard Ashley Scoggin, the team’s top 3-point shooter, was removed from the roster.
“It’s no secret that women’s basketball has been through an emotional time, it’s been a challenging time,” Alberts said. “Unfortunately, this is an HR issue that we really can’t discuss publicly. But I’m proud of the resiliency of the women’s basketball program, and I think it’s indicative of the culture that permeates what she’s built there. To be able to deal with some of the challenges they have, and to be able to gut out a gritty win on the road, just really proud of them.”
Williams’ team embodies what the state of Nebraska and its people are all about, Alberts added.
“The reality is, we don’t have to win every game here. But if you have a program where the players love each other, play for each other, unselfish, disciplined, fundamentally sound, tough, gritty—that’s Nebraskans. That’s what our alumni are all about,” Alberts said.
The Nebraska bowling team will host its home Big Red Invitational this weekend in Lincoln and it will be televised on the Big Ten Network. It will mark the first time in BTN history that bowling will be featured.
“What better program to feature than ours, an 11-time national champion and four-time runner-up,” Alberts said.
On the college wrestling front, Pinnacle Bank Arena is hosting the Big Ten championships March 5-6. Alberts said there are over 10,200 reserved seats sold already.
“That’s going to be incredible. An incredible environment down at Pinnacle Bank Arena. We’ve tried really hard to protect Husker fans to make sure our fans had the best seats in the lower bowl,” Alberts said with a smile.
Alberts took a call on alcohol sales, and whether or whether not it should be available to fans at Husker athletic events. Allowing it at the Big Ten wrestling championships gives Nebraska a chance to see how it goes.
“This will be a highly-charged, emotional environment, and I think we’re going to learn a lot, and that’s the whole idea of doing it, is to learn and see what actually happens,” Alberts said.
The annual Red-White Spring Game has 37,000 tickets sold already, according to Alberts. The scrimmage will be televised on BTN, but there hasn’t been a time set yet. One idea Alberts said he’d like to entertain for the scrimmage—and there’s no plans for this yet—is to have Frost and former Husker quarterback and current Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor mic’d up.
“They could just be watching offense together and talking about some of the nuances. I would watch that and learn a little bit from Scott and Zac,” Alberts said.