Briana Holman was going through her normal routine the week of Sept. 21 when she received a phone call from an unfamiliar number.
“I just got a phone call at like 9:30 at night and it was from like Sutton, Nebraska, and I was like ‘What the heck?’” Holman said. “I thought it was an interviewer or something. Then it was like ‘Hello, this is Ronnie Green.’"
Holman, a senior middle blocker on the volleyball team, did a pretty solid impression of the University of Nebraska chancellor while relaying the call.
On Sept. 21, Green together with University of Nebraska president Hank Bounds announced that they had fired athletic director Shawn Eichorst and that they were diving into the search for his replacement immediately. That process involved hiring a search firm, TurnKey, but it also involved a top-secret meeting.
“We also pulled together a group of 20 individuals on that Sunday following Sept. 21 to talk with us, let us listen to them about the profile we were looking for in our next athletic director,” Green said during the press conference to introduce Bill Moos, the man they chose to take over the athletic department. “The search firm was there listening and taking notes through that process.”
That was the reason for the phone call from Green to Holman.
“I was like ‘Hi, did you call me on accident?’” Holman continued. “He was like ‘No, I called you on purpose.’ I was like ‘Oh, can I help you?’ He was like, ‘Um, are you busy on this day?’”
Holman was one of the select few current student-athletes to receive an invitation to participate in the meeting that took place on the Sunday following Eichorst’s firing, and she said did not have anything else going on that day. Why not?
“That group of 20 individuals included current student-athletes, former student-athletes, current and former coaches, current and former athletics administration here at the university and certainly supporters of the university and our athletics programs,” Green said. “That was a pivotal and important part of our process to really identify the key traits and attributes we were looking for in the next leadership for our athletic director. We thank those individuals for their willingness to step up and serve in that way for us.”
Among the others who participated were volleyball coach John Cook, softball coach Rhonda Revelle, former quarterback and Heisman trophy winner Eric Crouch, former Nebraska wrestler and world champion Jordan Burroughs and, of course, Tom Osborne.
Holman said she was excited to be involved.
“I thought that it was an honor,” Holman said. “Tom Osborne was in the room; I was like, ‘Oh my god, it’s like a legend sitting right across the table from me.’ The chancellor, the president of the university was there — I was like ‘oh my god;’ I don’t really think that people get to meet the president of the university so I thought that was a big deal. So I thought it was really cool. I thought it was a blessing. I was super excited to help in any way that I could.”
Holman said her role was to share the perspective of what a current student-athlete would look for in an athletic director. However, she did not find that out until she arrived for the meeting on Sunday afternoon.
“I didn’t know what I was going to be asked,” Holman said. “As soon as I got there he was like, ‘We’re going to ask you this, this and this, kind of marinate, and then we’ll call on you.’ So I was kind of jotting down some notes.”
What did she come up with?
“I told them that it was really important that we got an athletic director that cared about student-athletes as people first and students and as athletes, because we are students first and athletes second,” Holman said. “Then I said it’s very important that they also have a relationship with the coaches because I think that is very important, because there are a lot of things that coaches need, emotional support and things like that that maybe sometimes we don’t think about, so I thought that was really important.
“I said Nebraska is known for our facilities, but I think that there’s always room for growth and I think that we need someone who looks really far into the future. I think that Nebraska is at the top right now for facilities and I think we can always make our facilities better.”
Green, Bounds and the search firm took note of everything Holman and the rest of the committee members shared, interviewed all of the university’s coaches to get their feedback, identified a shortlist of candidates and ultimately chose Moos to be their man.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.