LINCOLN — He has directed a 17-sport program at a nationally known private school.
He has overseen day-to-day operations and a $90 million budget at a high-profile public university with 23 sports.
He has negotiated contracts, created media relationships and built multimillion-dollar facilities.
That broad-based background got Miami Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst's name into the mix to become the 13th person to hold that job at Nebraska.
An interview in Lincoln on Sept. 9 — after Eichorst made the two-hour drive up Highway 77 following the Hurricanes' football game at Kansas State — put him in the lead to succeed the retiring Tom Osborne.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman offered Eichorst the job Wednesday night, and the 45-year-old native of Lone Rock, Wis., accepted.
Perlman raved Thursday about the breadth and depth of Eichorst's experience. That includes time as an attorney after earning a law degree from Marquette.
“It's pretty unusual to find all those things in a single package,'' Perlman said. “And I like him. He's not a born Nebraskan, but he seemed like a Nebraskan when you sit down and talk to him.''
Eichorst (pronounced IKE-horst) got a big Nebraska-based endorsement from former Husker football player Barry Alvarez, now the athletic director at Wisconsin.
Eichorst was Alvarez's top deputy for three years before taking the Miami job. Before his time at Wisconsin, Eichorst was senior associate A.D. at South Carolina.
Nebraskans will first meet Eichorst on Tuesday at a press conference. He'll begin a three-month run as special assistant to the chancellor before taking over as A.D. on Jan. 1.
The Miami job — Eichorst's first as a Division I head man — lasted just 18 months.
The move to Lincoln will make him $973,000 a year over five years. It will bring the Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate closer to his Midwestern roots. And it will disengage him from one of the nation's most troubled sports programs.
Miami, a private institution, is under NCAA investigation for a reported eight-year run of rule-breaking involving a booster funneling extra benefits to seven coaches and 72 athletes. Eichorst, hired in April 2011, wasn't involved in any of the misconduct and apparently was unaware that an investigation might be coming when he was hired.
At Nebraska, he takes over a department that is flush with new facilities and calm on the hiring and conference-realignment fronts.
“This is not going to be a transition in which there is a crisis,'' Perlman said, “and somebody's got to come in and do something dramatic.
“Nothing in my conversations with him told me he has a big plan for coming in and overhauling the athletic department. I don't think he thinks it's needed, and I don't think it's needed.''
Perlman took numerous questions about not hiring someone with Nebraska ties or from inside the department.
“I did that once,'' he said in deadpan reference to the turmoil-filled term of Steve Pederson from 2002 to '07.
|BUY THE BOOK: UNBEATABLE|
|Click the image above to learn more and to preorder your copy today.|
Internal candidates were considered, but the two finalists were both current athletic directors elsewhere. The quality of résumés from outside candidates, Perlman said, surpassed those of insiders.
He quickly added that wasn't a criticism of Osborne's five years and acknowledged that there will be disappointment among current staffers about their lack of involvement in the process.
“There are some people here who want to be athletic directors and have good potential to be athletic directors,'' Perlman said. “But they need a broader range of experiences to market themselves if they are thinking of schools of this stature.''
Some might be surprised that Osborne wasn't directly dialed in, but Perlman made it clear from the start that this was his hire.
Perlman told Osborne and football coach Bo Pelini last week that he was considering Eichorst. Osborne in turn talked to Alvarez about Eichorst when Wisconsin played at Nebraska last weekend.
“Tom reported to me that Barry was high on Shawn,'' the chancellor said.
Osborne didn't attend Thursday's press conference. His secretary said he was at an off-campus meeting most of the afternoon. He issued a short statement in support of Eichorst.
The salary for Eichorst — making him the Big Ten's third-highest-paid A.D. — is part of a “simple'' contract, meaning no bonuses for championships or performance.
If Eichorst leaves in the first five years, he will be penalized financially at a step-down rate that starts at $2 million the first year. If he stays five years, he'll get a $750,000 retention payment.
Eichorst and his wife, Kristin, have three sons. He played football at Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he was a captain and all-conference defensive back. He eventually became A.D. at his alma mater at age 32.
Perlman said Eichorst ultimately sold himself with his answer to a question about how one would measure his success at Nebraska in five years.
“His response was that if the coaches and student-athletes were successful, and nobody knows my name, it will be a success.''
Contact the writer:
* * *