LINCOLN, Neb. — Trev Alberts didn’t think he’d get emotional. But standing inside Memorial Stadium, the very same structure where Alberts made his name known to the state, brought it all back for the former Butkus Award winner.
“I love this place,” Alberts said as he stopped to collect his emotions. “I learned so much as a young man.
“I don’t take this responsibility lightly. I will do everything I can to what I can for this place.”
With his family by his side, Alberts was introduced Nebraska’s 14th athletic director Wednesday. The Cedar Falls, Iowa native will officially begin his new job Monday after leading the Nebraska-Omaha athletic department for 12 years.
“I would have never left UNO for any other job but Nebraska,” Alberts later added.
Nebraska has been without an AD since Bill Moos announced his retirement June 25.
UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green, who led the search for Moos’ replacement, said he looked at internal and national candidates. At the end of the day, Alberts checked all the boxes, Green said during Wednesday’s news conference.
“He is first and foremost student-athlete-focused,” Green said. “He’s a game-changer. He appreciates the big changes that are going on right in intercollegiate athletics.
“He understands the talent that we have amassed here.”
Green said they identified Alberts as the leading candidate over the weekend. NU officials shook hands with Alberts on Tuesday night to solidify the deal.
University of Nebraska president Ted Carter called Wednesday a great day for the university.
“Quite honestly, it’s a great day for the entire state of Nebraska,” he added.
“The one thing I was looking for, I wanted a leader. I feel like I know a great leader when I see one.”
Carter said there were high-profile ADs around the country that were interested in the job, and Green said there was a pool of 25 candidates and eight lead candidates, but Alberts was at the top.
“We needed to get this right,” Carter said. “When you think about how fast we got to this decision, it’s pretty incredible.”
Green and Carter leaned on a search advisory board that included current Husker coaches, current student-athletes and former Husker athletes, including Ndamukong Suh, Darin Erstad and Peaches James.
Tom Osborne, who coached Alberts, was in attendance Wednesday, as were many of Nebraska’s coaches. Scott Frost was not present, but believed to be on a family vacation.
“You got earn the trust and you got to dive in,” Alberts said. “I will never call a play and I never tell a coach who to recruit. I’m really excited about the future of Husker football and the rest of our sports.”
The last time fans saw Alberts in Husker red, he was chasing quarterbacks as one of the nation’s top linebackers in the early 1990s. He was the first Butkus Award winner (1993) in NU football history.
His No. 34 jersey was retired at the 1994 spring game.
The Indianapolis Colts selected Alberts with the No. 5 overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft, but injuries limited his pro career to a few seasons.
Alberts then served as a college football analyst for major networks, including ESPN, before beginning his career in athletic administration in 2009.
Alberts headed a significant and controversial footnote in Omaha athletics history when the school announced in March of 2011 that it was cutting football and its national championship wrestling program in 2011 so the Mavericks could compete at the Division I level and the Summit League.