Due to a helium shortage, fans will not be releasing balloons inside Memorial Stadium on game days this fall, Trev Alberts says.
Nebraska’s Athletic Director joined ‘Sports Nightly’ on Monday and touched on a multitude of topics, one of which was the longstanding tradition of fans releasing balloons after the first Husker touchdown during home games.
“While we’re still concerned about the environmental impact of the balloons, the reality is, acquiring helium in today’s day and age, some of the production of it is really challenged and it’s been hard to get,” Alberts said. “So we’ve sort of been asked by the university that, the helium that we are getting as a university, we need to use for medical purposes at UNMC (University of Nebraska Medical Center) in Omaha.
“So we are, this year, not going to be providing the red balloons for the first time in Memorial Stadium.”
In Nebraska Athletic’s fan survey, the balloon release was scored a 5.4 out of 7 in the satisfactory chart, same as The Cornhuskers Song (Come A Runnin’ Boys). Last November, the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska (ASUN) unanimously supported a resolution to encourage stopping balloon releases on campus and at Husker football games due to environmental reasons.
Alberts also wanted to touch on Nebraska’s softball season, which came to an end on Saturday in the Stillwater Regional in Oklahoma. The Big Ten-champ Huskers finished the year 41-16 overall and 17-5 in Big Ten play.
“There’s so much to celebrate with that team, a team that was so resilient along the way,” Alberts said. “At one point I think I said they reminded me of the team that losing wasn’t an option to them. And in really critical moments when they needed to find a win, they were able to get it done.”
In the world of college football, the NCAA Division I Council announced last Wednesday it will relax restrictions on conference championship games, allowing conferences to determine the two teams that play for the championship however they want.
The Pac-12 didn’t take much time to make a change, announcing it will be getting rid of its North and South divisions for the 2022 season and instead using winning percentage to determine who will play in the title game. The Mountain West will go that route, too, but starting in 2023.
The Big Ten hasn’t yet officially made an announcement in what it’ll do. Alberts has an idea of what the conference may be thinking, however if there is a change, it likely wouldn’t be for the 2022 season.
“I think a lot of the athletic directors in the Big Ten that I’ve talked to are proponents of scrapping the division and saying the two best teams oughta get the chance to play for the conference championship,” Alberts said. “And that would be my opinion as well.”
Alberts did add with a laugh, “Now that could change.”
There was also another change made by the NCAA—teams will be allowed to sign more than 25 players to their next two classes. As long as teams stay within the 85-scholarship limit in their programs, Alberts is in favor of the waiver.
“I think you really disproportionally, negatively affected those schools that perhaps had some coaching changes,” Alberts said. “There’s schools that could never get up to the 85-man limit, and really you’re limiting opportunities for young people by doing that.”
“I think in a different era, the transfer portal era, I think it makes some sense
On the baseball front, Nebraska failed to qualify for the eight-team Big Ten Tournament that’s being played in Omaha. If conference champ Maryland would have beaten Purdue, the Huskers would have captured the No. 8 seed and been postseason bound. Purdue and Maryland, however, never played the game as it was called due to weather in the area.
Alberts said longtime sport administrator at Nebraska, Dennis Leblanc, made several phone calls to Purdue on behalf of the Huskers.
“At the end of the day, the Big Ten sort of allows the institutions to work together on these things. I think Dennis felt comfortable that those two schools were reasonably doing what they could to get the game in,” Alberts said.
Alberts said he and Husker head coach Will Bolt spoke about the matter, and the two came away in agreement.
“The real lesson here is,” Alberts said he and Bolt agreed on, “make sure in the future we don’t put ourselves in a position to have to hope that a game gets played where there’s a chance and a threat of weather.”
More news and notes
>> Nebraska is introducing a three-game football ticket package available for purchase at $180 beginning Wednesday at 10 a.m. The three games would include one game in September (North Dakota or Georgia Southern), one in October (Indiana or Illinois) and one in November (Minnesota or Wisconsin). The Oklahoma game isn’t included in the package.
>> The football season ticket renewal rate this year is 92%.