LINCOLN — Fred Hoiberg finalized a deal Saturday morning to become Nebraska’s next men’s basketball coach, the school confirmed Saturday afternoon.
Hoiberg, the former coach at Iowa State and with the Chicago Bulls, was Nebraska’s main target to replace Tim Miles, who was fired Tuesday after the Huskers’ second-round NIT loss at TCU.
The 46-year-old Hoiberg was born in Lincoln and is the grandson of Jerry Bush, Nebraska’s basketball coach from 1954 to 1963.
“I can’t express how excited I am to be back on the sidelines and to be coaching at a university that means a lot to my family and me,” Hoiberg said in a press release. “Lincoln is a special place for our family. I was born in Lincoln, my grandfather Jerry Bush was the head coach at Nebraska, my other grandfather was a longtime professor there, and my parents are proud graduates of the University of Nebraska.
“Nebraska has always felt like a second home.”
Hoiberg became a household name in the college coaching world by solidifying Iowa State as a Big 12 contender. From 2010 to 2015, Hoiberg took the Cyclones to four straight NCAA tournaments, and they advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2014. Iowa State won the Big 12 tournament in his final two seasons before he left for Chicago in 2015.
Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos will officially introduce Hoiberg as coach at a Tuesday press conference in Lincoln. Hoiberg signed a seven year, $25 million contract, or $3.57 million a year. Only 10 coaches nationally and two in the Big Ten, Michigan State’s Tim Izzo and Michigan’s John Beilein, made more this season, according to a USA Today database of coaching salaries. His $3.57 million yearly salary would rank 11th nationally.
Hoiberg made $5 million a year with the Bulls. Miles made $2.375 million for the 2018-19 season, which ranked eighth in the Big Ten and 44th in the country.
“We are excited to welcome Fred, his wife Carol, and their family to Nebraska,” Moos said in a statement. “He will be an outstanding representative of the university and a great leader for our men’s basketball program.”
Over the past few months, Hoiberg has been linked to multiple jobs in both the NBA and college basketball. Nebraska’s coaching search began in mid-February, and sources told The World-Herald that Hoiberg was the top candidate for the job. As early as a month ago, a source said Hoiberg was still interested in coaching in the NBA.
But something changed.
Moos and University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds made contact with Hoiberg in February to gauge interest. At the press conference announcing Miles’ firing, Moos confirmed he’d talked to Hoiberg but downplayed the idea NU was close to hiring him, saying the talks were just preliminary. But conversations with Hoiberg and Nebraska have been going on for weeks, according to a source.
Moos said Tuesday that he expected the announcement of a hire in seven to 14 days. Instead, it came in four.
“When you look at him, you see an individual who has had success as a player and a coach,” Moos said in a statement. “Fred’s background will sell itself on the recruiting trail, and help us bring in the type of student-athletes needed to compete at the highest level. His style of play not only will be appealing to prospective recruits, but will also provide our great fans an entertaining brand of basketball.”
The selection of Hoiberg breaks a half-century hiring pattern for Nebraska basketball. He is the first new hire with head coaching experience in a major conference since Harry Good came from Indiana in 1946.
Hoiberg moved from Lincoln to Ames, Iowa, as a child and played at Iowa State before going on to a 10-year NBA career. At Iowa State he earned the nickname “The Mayor” because of his popularity and even received write-in votes in the Ames mayoral race in 1993.
Hoiberg was a multisport athlete at Ames High School. He was recruited by Tom Osborne to play quarterback at Nebraska, but chose to play basketball at Iowa State instead. Hoiberg was voted Iowa’s Mr. Basketball as a senior in 1991. At Iowa State, Hoiberg was a four-year starter. His best season came as a junior, when he scored 20.2 points per game and shot 45 percent from 3-point range. He was voted first-team All-Big Eight in 1995.
He was drafted 52nd overall by the NBA’s Indiana Pacers. After four years of playing sparingly, he was traded to the Chicago Bulls in 1998, where he became a consistent starter, scoring as many as nine points per game. A prolific 3-point shooter, he led the NBA in 3-point percentage in his final year with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2004-05 season, shooting 48.3 percent from behind the arc.
Following that season, Hoiberg was forced to end his playing career after 10 seasons and undergo open heart surgery. He began work with the front office of the Timberwolves in 2006, helping evaluate players with the VP of operations at the time, former Boston Celtics great Kevin McHale.
His coaching career began in 2010, when he was hired away from the Timberwolves by Iowa State. After five seasons, Hoiberg moved back to the NBA as Chicago’s coach. He was fired in December after a 115-155 record with the Bulls.
Four months later, he’s the new face of Husker basketball.
“I had the opportunity to coach at Pinnacle Bank Arena with the Bulls, and I have seen firsthand that the facilities are as nice as any in the country,” Hoiberg said. “When you couple that with a loyal and passionate fan base, you can see there is great potential for the future of Nebraska basketball.”
Hoiberg married his high school sweetheart and has four children. The oldest, Paige, works in the basketball office at Kansas. Son Jack is a redshirt freshman walk-on basketball player at Michigan State. The two youngest are twin boys in high school.