Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts wants the university to get comfortable with being uncomfortable as college athletics wade into uncharted waters. Alberts touched on a multitude of issues during his monthly radio show with Greg Sharpe earlier this week. He fielded fan questions, which included often-rumored steps concerning college football’s landscape.
ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported late last week that former Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren left significant work undone regarding future TV contracts. Per his reporting, schools collectively have to pay back $40 million to Fox because Warren delivered NBC the Big Ten title game without a full authority to do so. Schools also have to pay back $25 million in total for a lost 2020 football game inventory. Alberts reiterated new Big Ten Commissioner Toni Petitti, with an extensive TV network background, is working on a solution to these issues. Then Alberts explained the upcoming TV practicality. There’s the potential for Nebraska to play on Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff, in the 2:30 p.m. afternoon window on CBS where SEC games flourished for years and then in the same primetime window NFL games are given extensive production on NBC.
“I can only tell you from the university’s perspective, we’ve built our brand on being willing to play primetime games against great opponents,” Alberts said. “We think the University of Nebraska in primetime is a great showcase of what’s great about Nebraska, the state of Nebraska and importantly our football program.”
Alberts said they’ve made progress regarding the 2024 Big Ten schedule. He has a better idea of the opponents but not sure on the order of those games. Petitti said in his introductory press conference that onboarding UCLA and USC is high on his priority list. There’s also the possibility of future conference expansion. Big Ten athletic directors and chancellors met with new NCAA President Charlie Baker about issues facing the conference. Alberts said any potential further expansion needs to be data-driven.
The Go Big Project is still running slightly behind schedule so the university is giving football-centric items a priority. Alberts said they want to keep disruptions to an absolute minimum once the team beings fall camp. Nebraska’s athletic director beamed with enthusiasm for the project. The 315,000-square-foot facility will house resources for myriad student-athletes. Prospective recruits continue to tour the nine-figure facility as the landscape of college football continues to shift.
“Changes in athletics, everyday I pinch myself thinking of the timing of getting this approved and done,” Alberts said. “Really think Nebraska’s in a good position. Because I really don’t know how many other universities are going to build a 315,000 square feet facility, not just for football but for all student-athletes in this new economic reality that we’re all facing. We get through this we have the opportunity to have a world-class brick-and-motor developmental facility.”
Nebraska also released a ticket package to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Memorial Stadium this season. He said there have been 2,600 new first-time applications for football season tickets and the East Stadium balcony conversion to club seating is ongoing. Conversion there will lead to a reduction in seating capacity by a marginal amount. Alberts also hopes to send the stadium modernization plan to send university President Ted Carter by the end of the summer.
Alberts also said the country’s attendance record for a women’s sporting event is “at risk” during Volleyball Day In Nebraska on August 30. Capacity for the volleyball event at Memorial Stadium will be 91,000, should they get approval from the fire marshal. Tickets for the event sold out almost immediately, even before the university plans to announce the musical act on June 5. At 91,000, that would put attendance just behind a world-record 91,553 that attended the UEFA Champion’s League match between rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Spotify Camp Nou in Barcelona last March. The existing North American record is 90,185 at the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final in at the Rose Bowl. (Two matches at the unofficial 1971 Women’s World Cup surpassed 100,000, but weren’t sanctioned by FIFA so they are classified as exhibition matches.)
“With all those approvals, if we get to 91,000, we think the all-time record for women’s sporting event in the United States is at risk,” Alberts said. “We’ll have an opportunity here with our volleyball program to break that.”
Nebraska’s athletic director also hopes to have more information regarding logistics, including parking, by June 5. Alberts believes they’ve figured out how to allow for 400 more volleyball season tickets at Devaney. He emphasized those will likely go to the lengthy waiting list for volleyball season ticket holders.
>> Nebraska hired Jonathan Bateman as the university’s new assistant athletic director of Name, Image and Likeness. Alberts said Batemen solely works in that space to keep an eye on other athletic programs, state NIL laws and ongoing legal advances.
>> Alberts congratulated the 68 student-athletes who received degrees last weekend. That included former Husker football player Cethan Carter. Alberts said that was symbolic of the “care and love our academic support staff has for each other.” He’s also pushing other former Huskers to return to school and secure degrees.
>> The Nebraska men won the Big Ten Track & Field Championships and women finished third. Alberts credited their work, the work of new Coach of the Year Justin St. Clair, and his coaching staff. “They’re endemic of the success Nebraska should be having on a consistent basis,” Alberts said. Fan spaces at the new outdoor track and field facility aren’t ready and Alberts wants to commit the proper resources to it, as opposed to throwing cheap bleachers there.
>> Alberts noted his pride for the Nebraska softball program, which fell in the Stillwater, Oklahoma, Regional. Alberts said he’s “in awe of watching those young women” and complimented the work of head coach Rhonda Revelle. He said the softball team’s late-season perseverance signifies what he wants Nebraska athletics to be.
>> The athletic director encouraged Husker fans to support the Nebraska baseball team in the Big Ten Conference Tournament. He likes how the team is playing well at the end of the season and could catch fire at the right time. He’d like to see the tournament remain in Omaha as the conference continues to bid out the tournament location. Alberts also wants to keep an eye on possible renovations at Haymarket Park as the university’s partners there identify them.
>> Alberts said he’s talked with football head coach Matt Rhule about potentially installing grass fields at Memorial Stadium. Rhule believes in student-athlete well being and studies show natural grass is easier on players. The university also looks at hosting new events, like Volleyball Day In Nebraska, where natural grass posses a more significant challenge compared to artificial turf. Alberts wants to see how things go as discussions continue.