'Interim' label dropped as Osborne agrees to lead department into 2010

Updated: December 19, 2007, 3:26 PM ET
Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Tom Osborne won't be leaving Nebraska anytime soon.

[+] EnlargeTom Osborne
AP Photo/Nati HarnikTom Osborne, who became interim athletic director at Nebraska after Steve Pederson was fired, will stay on as the AD until June 30, 2010.

University chancellor Harvey Perlman announced Wednesday that Osborne, 70, would remain as athletic director until June 30, 2010.

Ten years removed from his celebrated coaching career, Osborne returned to the university as interim athletic director Oct. 16, the day after Steve Pederson was fired.

Since then, Osborne has fired Bill Callahan as football coach, hired LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini to replace Callahan, and helped the Huskers in recruiting.

"When chancellor Perlman asked me to lead the athletic department and to help unify the state, he gave me the responsibility and the authority to do whatever needed to be done," Osborne said in a statement. "We've made some great strides over the last two months, but the chancellor and I agree that these next two years are crucial to keep our program moving forward."

Osborne, whose annual salary is $250,000, oversees a 23-sport program that runs on a $66.7 million budget. In his first two months on the job, Osborne's focus has been on rebuilding the football program he coached to its pinnacle in the mid-1990s.

The Cornhuskers are coming off their second losing season in four years, and Osborne fired Callahan on Nov. 24. He introduced Pelini -- a former Nebraska defensive coordinator -- as the new coach on Dec. 2.

Between Callahan's firing and Pelini's hiring, Osborne named himself interim coach so he could keep recruiting efforts going. He even offered a scholarship to a player an hour after Pelini was hired. That week, Osborne and Pelini spent a couple of days recruiting together.

Osborne said he wants people associated with Nebraska athletics to know he's committed to the job. "I have never been enamored with titles," he said. "At the same time, I think it's important for our entire department to realize that we will continue moving down the same path we're already going. Change always breeds at least some uncertainty, and if removing 'interim' from my title helps everyone understand that we'll continue to be consistent in our approach, I'm all for that."

Perlman said a search for Osborne's successor would begin in early 2010 and that Osborne would assist in the search and transition.

"I appreciated Tom's willingness to step in as interim athletic director during a very difficult time for the athletic department," Perlman said. "His presence and his decisions have significantly reduced the controversy surrounding the department and particularly the football program."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press