LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne is retiring as of Jan. 1.
The 75-year-old Osborne announced his decision Wednesday at a news conference. He says “the perception” that you’re getting old “can get in the way.” Osborne says he doesn’t want to be a distraction.
Osborne was one of the most successful football coaches in history. Every one of his 25 teams won at least nine games, and three of his last four teams won national championships. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998, the year after he retired.
After serving in Congress and losing a gubernatorial bid, he returned to the university in 2007 to take over the athletic department and oversee the rebuilding of the football program and shepherd the school’s move from the Big 12 to the Big Ten.
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A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne is retiring.
Osborne will announce his retirement at a news conference Wednesday, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
Basketball coach Tim Miles tweeted: ?”Tom Osbourne announcing retirement. Leaves an unreal legacy for NU,” and he added a picture of Osborne apparently speaking to athletics department staff.
The 75-year-old Osborne is a national icon in college athletics for the run of success his Cornhuskers teams enjoyed from 1973-1997. After serving in Congress and losing a gubernatorial bid, he returned to the university in 2007 to take over the athletic department and oversee the rebuilding of the football program and shepherd the school’s move from the Big 12 to the Big Ten.
Under Osborne’s watch, the athletic department has built a new basketball practice facility and entered into a public-private partnership to build a 16,000-seat basketball arena in downtown Lincoln that will open for the 2013-14 season. He also oversaw an expansion project that will increase Memorial Stadium’s capacity to more than 90,000 next year.
Perlman had asked Osborne to take over the athletic department at a time of turmoil. The football program was struggling under Bill Callahan, and staff morale was low under athletic director Steve Pederson.
Osborne fired Callahan after the 2007 season and hired Bo Pelini, who made the Huskers competitive again and led them to the Big 12 championship game in 2009 and 2010.
Among Osborne’s other key personnel moves: hiring Miles from Colorado State last March to coach the men’s basketball program and hiring former major-leaguer Darin Erstad in 2010 to coach baseball at his alma mater.
But Osborne is most widely known for his coaching. Every one of his 25 teams won at least nine games, and three of his last four teams won national championships. He retired with a career record of 255-49-3, an .836 winning percentage that ranked fifth all-time among Division I coaches, and 13 conference titles. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998, the year after he retired.
Osborne turned to politics after his coaching days. By overwhelming margins, voters in the western Nebraska district elected him to the House of Representatives in 2000, 2002 and 2004. In perhaps the greatest upset in Nebraska political history, Osborne lost to incumbent Dave Heineman in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary.
Osborne finished his third congressional term after the crushing defeat, then returned to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he taught classes in leadership and business ethics before taking the reins of the athletic department.