Husker AD Trev Alberts on fan survey, new football staff, facilities and more

Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts joined the Huskers Radio Network Wednesday night to discuss the return of the men’s and women’s basketball program, Memorial Stadium fan survey, new Huskers offensive football coaches and more.

*** Alberts said he was proud of Nebraska’s medical staff, team, coaches and student-athletes on the men’s and women’s basketball teams for coming back from a bout of COVID-19 which ended each program and rescheduled two matches each.

Both basketball teams are back in action against Wisconsin for a double header at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Wednesday. The men play at 4 p.m. and the women play at 8 p.m. Alberts said he’s also grateful for the flexibility of Wisconsin’s programs.

Alberts said he was grateful to the fans for sticking with both schedules and being flexible with rescheduled and adjusted matches.

Alberts said they decided to schedule the men’s game at 4 a.m. because head coach Fred Hoiberg thought that would allow more time to rest before facing Rutgers on Saturday.

***Alberts said this is a roadside COVID test required by the university for all students and staff to get tested when they return for the second semester. He said some student-athletes didn’t know they had COVID.

*** He said he was happy with how the Big Ten is handling games that need to be rescheduled. Alberts said he’s glad the conference is rescheduling the games instead of calling them a no contest.

*** Alberts said he wanted to thank the fans and said the best way to support Husker athletics is to attend games, including non-profit sports like women’s basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, athletics and other spring sports.

*** Alberts said they are approaching the 20,000 people who completed the Memorial Stadium fan survey now that it is open to the general public. He said it would take some time to sort through the data and plan to implement the changes.

He brought a list into the radio booth to read an immediate change they are making to the stadium for 2022. Nebraska is expanding the seat width in the end zone from 18 inches to 20 inches or more. Alberts said to do this rows could be increased from 27 seats to 24. He said while this would affect capacity, he said they wanted to respond quickly and make sure fans are comfortable .

He said Nebraska releases all results once the department sorts and organizes all the data.

*** Alberts said tickets for the spring game go on sale Feb. 1 for 10 a.m. season ticket holders. Tickets for the general public go on sale the following day, February 2, at 10 a.m.

Tickets for Nebraska’s game against Northwestern in Ireland will go on sale Friday, Jan. 28, and will be available Monday at 8 a.m. to the general public.

*** Alberts said that when he played for Nebraska, they played in Tokyo, Japan against Kansas State and both teams flew on the same plane, which was awkward.

He said Nebraska were not considering traveling for another game after Ireland “at this time”. Alberts said there was a lot in the air “with programming in college football. He mentioned the potential future alliance with the ACC and PAC-12 and the college football playoffs.

*** Iowa athletic director Gary Barta says the Big Ten are considering getting rid of divisions within the conference. Alberts said Big Ten leaders had talked about the schedule and that moving away from divisions could be an option.

“I expect there will be some pretty big changes to the lineup going forward,” Alberts said.

*** Alberts said the outdoor track is progressing well and the track is complete. He said the runway project had been split into two phases due to the pandemic and construction costs. The first phase was about $10 million.

The second phase which includes the stands is still ongoing as Nebraska had to reject the only bid on the project as it excused their $6 million budget.

*** Alberts said they are investigating whether the men’s basketball team will be required to wear a mask during their Thursday game. He said that because many health protocols and COVID protocols in the Big Ten rely on local protocols, there is confusion and inconsistency about what to do.

He said they had a “great” relationship with Pat Lopez, director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, and worked “day in and day out” with UNMC experts.

***Alberts said they are deciding where the student section will be located in 2022. He said they will consider the changes, but have not decided whether or not to move the student section.

*** A caller asked whether to get either artificial turf or a grass pitch. Alberts said they are replacing the current pitch with a new artificial turf. He said that if he had to choose what to play on, he would prefer natural grass.

However, Alberts said while researching the cost of natural grass, he realized it would be an $8 million investment. He said they took into account the other events being held on the ground, such as potentially more concerts/events, fan days, graduations and more in making their decision to remain on the ground.

*** Will Shields, a former teammate of Alberts, was recently at the Outlander Trophy ceremony in Omaha. Alberts said it was great to see him and he wants to find a way to get Shields involved in the athletic department because he’s “smart and loves this place.”

*** Alberts said he thinks Scott Frost has done a “great job” of assembling his new offensive staff.

“I think football has a lot of momentum right now and I give Scott a lot of credit for that,” Alberts said.

He said offensive coordinator Mark Whipple brings a lot of perspective and experience. Wide receivers coach/associate head coach Mickey Joseph brings passion and he had an infectious personality as a player.

Alberts said Joseph was a bit older than him, but he remembers him when Joseph was a quarterback at Nebraska. Alberts said he wasn’t surprised his efforts on the recruiting track showed that.

Offensive line coach Donovan Raiola has a different approach, as Alberts said, but it resonated with the team.

Alberts said the coaching staff made “a very, very big effort” in the transfer portal.

*** Alberts said Frost is in good health after testing positive for COVID-19 and is back on the recruiting trail.

*** A fan called and asked Alberts if alcohol might be allowed on campus and at sporting events. He said it’s a tough call because it’s strong opinions on both sides of the argument.

Alcohol was part of the survey sent to fans, but Alberts said he and his team have not yet been able to sort through all the data.

He said this decision was not just his and the athletic departments, but all of the universities and stakeholders. He said they had read academic papers about the impact of drinking at games, talked to other schools in the Big Ten and researched the potential revenue boost.

*** Nebraska has hired Marquita Armstead as its new senior women’s administrator in light of Pat Logsdon’s retirement after 43 years in Nebraska.

Alberts joked that Nebraska volleyball succeeded thanks to Pat Logsdon despite John Cook. He said it was difficult to hire someone new after Logsdon spent so much time in Nebraska and became a fixture in Nebraska athletics.

However, he said Armstead had a lot to learn, but he thought she would do a great job.

*** A caller inquired about improving swimming and diving facilities. Alberts said he had a conversation with head swimming and diving coach Pablo Morales about the possibility. He said there was a vision for an upgrade before it went AD.

Alberts said they are focused on what they can do today to improve these facilities. He said he “recognizes and understands that there are improvements to be made”.

“The challenge is that when you don’t do anything for a long time, you sink into a whole thing. In athletics, you never stay the same. Either you progress or you fall behind. And the truth of the problem , is that in some of these areas we’ve fallen a bit behind and we need to address that,” Alberts said.