LINCOLN — There aren’t any Nebraska sports on the calendar for the next several months, but NU Athletic Director Bill Moos’ schedule was full Monday, and the light was on in his office. A meeting with staff, some of whom were working from home. A two-hour consultation with the team designing the Huskers’ new football palace. Even a chat with coach Scott Frost.
The coronavirus pandemic — and measures to halt its spread — hasn’t dramatically altered the routine of Nebraska athletics’ most visible man, who talked on his radio show last week and filled in for Frost on the "Nebraska Football Show" on Sunday.
“I’m too busy to get sick,” Moos joked to the World-Herald on Monday evening. He said he feels good and has had no need to be tested for COVID-19. “I watch it real close and do the hand-washing and social distancing as much as I can. I’m not real good with the social distancing because I’m kind of an outgoing person who likes to interact. I’m more cautious than I was before. But I don’t carry a tape measure with me.”
Moos said the scene in North Stadium, where the athletic department is housed, is “pretty stark” other than him a few others. It’s officially spring break, for one thing. Coronavirus has largely shut down campus as well.
“And that’s probably good,” Moos said. “Let’s attack this thing and get it leveled out so we can get back at it and be comfortable and healthy along the way.”
All but a few student-athletes have gone home, Moos said, and the ones who remain can get grab-and-go meals from the training table — “our nutrition people have been all-stars,” Moos said — but not work out in the weight rooms. Those are closed. And it’s premature, Moos said, to say whether the football team will get back all or some of its remaining 13 spring practices in June, which is a target date if the U.S. can get a handle on COVID-19. One or two of those practices might even be open to the public, as the 2020 spring game has been canceled.
Frost, Moos said, has a good handle on the situation.
“He’s very, very smart, very astute,” Moos said. “Wished he could have our guys in the weight room and working out, but we’re at no disadvantage because there are no teams around the country, and certainly not in the Big Ten, that are within their facilities right now that are working out.”
They’ve also talked at length — to the point, Moos said, where there’s a strong trust between the two — about the $155 million football facility, which remains in the design phase. Although Nebraska could, in theory, break ground on the facility now (the Ed Weir track that sits on the future site will not be used again in competition because spring sports have been canceled), Moos said there’s no hurry to begin building before the design and cost are finalized. In a two-hour meeting Monday, Moos, NU staff and designers talked about the aesthetics of the complex.
“We’re playing with it,” Moos said. “The same square footage, but we brought a little character to it. It’s going to be so important it blends in with its neighboring buildings and is still functional. We really like the direction it’s going. It's going to be a beautiful facility.”
Moos doesn't expect that the coronavirus, or measures to slow its spread, will postpone construction, either.
Frost’s views, Moos said, were “represented” in the meeting. In 2014, Moos spearheaded the construction of Washington State’s football complex — featured in Architect magazine — and has, since then, toured many of college football’s top facilities.
“What happens is you shoot for the moon, you get the price tag and you start whittling away,” Moos said. “I think I’d be premature in saying what I think is going to be really cool and quite unique to our building until I’m sure we can deliver.”
Also on Moos’ to-do list are frequent meetings with Big Ten athletic directors and officials about how to address spring sports, as the NCAA’s Division I Council Coordination Committee is set to vote March 30 on whether senior athletes, who lost the majority or all of their final season, will regain that year of eligibility.
“There are questions about the spring sports and how we’re going to bring that closure,” Moos said. Big Ten leadership on the matter has been good, he said.
Some morning calls, Moos can and does take at home. But he makes it into North Stadium daily as well. The days go fast, and the task list is long.
“I like to get in there, get some things done, get caught up on some things,” Moos said.