Bill Straub

Nebraska women's bowling coach Bill Straub retired Wednesday. His wife, left, Kim worked as the team's office manager while his daughter Meghan, right, was a captain on the 2018-19 team. 

LINCOLN — Bill Straub made sure to bring tissues to his Wednesday afternoon meeting with the bowling team. It was his first team meeting of the school year, and the last team meeting he’d conduct as coach.

The man who’s won 10 national titles at NU had shocking news. Only one player — senior captain Allison Morris — knew Straub decided over the summer to retire before the season.

“And she might have cried the hardest,” Straub said.

Other than the coach, of course.

Straub, who began coaching the Nebraska men’s and women’s club programs in 1983, officially retired at that meeting. One hour later, an NU press release followed, with Athletic Director Bill Moos showering praise on Straub and indicating a search for Straub’s replacement is “underway.” It is expected that Paul Klempa, Straub’s right-hand man and longtime assistant, will be a top candidate to be Straub’s replacement.

“Bill Straub is Nebraska bowling,” Moos said. “He built the program from the ground up before it was a varsity sport, and is the only coach in the history of our program. He truly built a dominant program in the sport, and is widely respected in his profession. Bill is a true Husker and we look forward to seeing him at games and events for years to come. I want to wish Bill and his family best wishes in his retirement.”

A big change awaits the Straub family.

If Bill was Nebraska bowling, then Nebraska bowling was much of what Bill, wife Kim and daughter Meghan knew for much of their lives. Kim, a former bowler of Bill’s, was the team’s office manager. Meghan, a senior captain on last year’s team, grew up in the bowling alley tucked off to the side of Nebraska’s East Campus Union. She practiced with the team as a girl, throwing on one of the empty lanes.

With Bill leaving, Kim is, too. And Meghan won’t be around nearly as much.

“It’s going to be a big change for all of us,” Meghan said Wednesday. She stood in back of the meeting and watched as the team learned what she’d see her dad debate off and on since the end of last season.

“He handled it really well,” Meghan said. She noted her dad will be around, too, if anyone wants some advice or a “father figure” to lean on.

Why now?

After running one of NU’s best programs since its official inception in 1996, Straub — in his late 60s — is ready to dial it back. More specifically, his 6-foot-5 frame is ready to not travel so much. An aortic dissection, suffered in winter 2014, slowed Straub down, he said.

“I’m getting further away from my date of birth than I’m comfortable doing,” Straub said. “I thought, why not quit, as opposed to be asked to quit?”

Straub had long planned to coach Meghan until she exhausted her eligibility. She did so last season as NU finished third at the NCAA championships.

“I’ve always been too large for airplanes and too large for small beds, and now, with the other things going on, it makes travel too hard,” Straub said. “I think I owe it to them. It’s not my wife’s fault that she’s 19 years younger than I am. I don’t think it’s fair to not go out as healthy as I can. (Meghan) was certainly not pleased, but I’m blessed with a pretty sharp kid.

“She knew it was time. And she’s out of eligibility.”

Said Meghan: “It was time.”

The decision is another massive change on the landscape of NU athletics. There have been many since Moos arrived, starting with the firing of then-football coach Mike Riley and hiring of Scott Frost.

Since then, there have been changes in men’s tennis, men’s golf, women’s rifle, women’s gymnastics, men’s basketball, baseball, women’s golf and now bowling. Moos also conducted a two-month investigation of the Husker softball program before reinstating Rhonda Revelle as the coach on Sunday.

Straub quietly — and quirkily — ran his dominant program on East Campus. NU won IBC national titles in 1991, 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001 and NCAA national championships in 2004, 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2015. Straub’s program was featured by the New York Times and HBO.

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