Nebraska chancellor expects Huskers will never host a Friday night football game

Nebraska chancellor expects Huskers will never host a Friday night football game
World-Herald News Service

LINCOLN — Nebraska will play its first Big Ten Friday night football game when it visits Illinois on Sept. 29. It’s likely that will be NU’s last Friday night league game, as well.

At the University of Nebraska Board of Regents meeting Friday, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green told regents he had been talking in the “last few weeks” with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who created the Friday night TV package with Fox Sports 1. Green said he now expects Nebraska will never host such a game. The Huskers had been expected to host at least one Big Ten Friday night home game at some point over the next six years and possibly two.

“It’s difficult for us to conceive doing this on our campus,” Green said, citing the location of Memorial Stadium relative to the rest of the campus and the need to potentially cancel school for all or part of the day to play the game.

Further, Green said he doesn’t necessarily expect NU to play another Big Ten Friday night game after the Sept. 29 road contest at Illinois, but officials, Green said, “will see how that goes.”

“The idea of some additional exposure for the conference was a lot of the thinking,” Green said.

“And the university,” Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst interjected.

“And the university,” Green said. “So away games, we’ll see how that falls, in the future, but we’re comfortable on that side.”

Eichorst said the athletic department is willing to open up Memorial Stadium on the Thursday and Saturday surrounding the Friday night game to accommodate any high schools who don’t want to play their game when the Huskers are.

As of Friday, Eichorst said, NU had no takers.

“The details we’d have to look at, but I’m sure we wouldn’t be charging any rent,” Eichorst said.

Eichorst said he’s been in consistent contact with NSAA executive director Jim Tenopir in discussing the impact any Friday night home game would have on local high schools.

At Big Ten media days last month, Delany conceded there had been more “pushback” to the Friday night football plan than he’d expected. Michigan and Penn State refused to play them entirely — home or away. Northwestern ditched two previously scheduled home games. Nebraska coach Mike Riley flatly said he didn’t want to play another after this season.

“I do not like to get out of the routine of what we do week to week to get ready for a game,” Riley said. “I hate that, as a matter of fact. I’m a real routine guy of a countdown to a game.”

Nebraska already has one annual Friday game against Iowa. That contest, which occurs the day after Thanksgiving, is played while students are on holiday break and after all of the Nebraska high schools have finished their state championship games.

According to minutes from a UNL Faculty Senate meeting on May 30, Eichorst told executive committee members that NU may have to host a Friday night home game once every three years. According to the minutes, Eichorst told the executive committee to express its concerns to Green.

NU regents approve 11-year, $128 million deal to keep Huskers with Adidas

LINCOLN — Husker sports will stick with Adidas and receive $128.7 million in cash and goods over 11 years.

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents unanimously approved the sponsorship agreement Friday.

The Huskers have aligned with Adidas for more than 20 years. The deal comes after Adidas lost major programs UCLA and Michigan last year — UCLA to Under Armour and Michigan to Nike’s Jordan Brand subsidiary.

The Husker deal comes with $64 million in cash and about $64.7 million in apparel and equipment.

The university also announced that Husker sports would contribute $5 million annually to non-sports scholarships beginning in 2018.

Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst told the regents: “We operate in the black and we make a significant contribution back to the university because that is the right thing to do.”

The athletic department is one of the few in the country that requires no state, university or student-fee subsidies.

UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green said after the meeting the new scholarship fund has little to do with the Adidas contract and a great deal to do with Husker sports’ strong operating budget.

Regent Jim Pillen of Columbus asked Eichorst whether he could assure Husker fans that Nebraska will be extremely competitive.

Regent Howard Hawks of Omaha then chipped in, “And how many games are we going to win this year?”

Eichorst said Husker sports has invested and planned in such a way that it can “compete at the highest level.”

The Adidas contract goes into effect immediately and supplants the last year of the previous contract.

The contract gives NU the chance to examine how it stacks up after the fourth and seventh years. The contract could be adjusted to reflect market value, and Nebraska could terminate the contract then.

Adidas receives signage and other forms of recognition in the deal, which officially lasts from July 1, 2017, until June 30, 2028.

In other Husker-related business, the regents:

» Approved a plan for a $14.1 million gymnastics training facility. The cost would be covered by donations and athletic department revenues.

The training center would be placed in an addition to the Devaney Center and would house the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams. Construction is expected to start in August 2018 and end in December 2019.

» Agreed that Loop Road east of Memorial Stadium should be upgraded. The road, basically around a parking lot, is formed by Vine, 12th, U and 14th Streets. The cost, to be covered by athletic revenues, would be about $2.4 million.

The road contains broken bricks and has generated complaints about safety and accessibility, NU said.

» Agreed to a five-year contract extension with Paciolan Systems for ticketing software. The cost will total $1.6 million over five years to be covered by athletic revenues. NU has had a ticketing contract with Paciolan since at least 2006.

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