Shawn Eichorst Miami Nebraska, Shawn Eichorst left his job as athletic director at scandal-ridden Miami on Thursday and accepted a five-year contract to succeed Tom Osborne at Nebraska. Eichorst’s departure comes at a particularly curious time — with the Hurricanes set to play Notre Dame in the rekindling of a college football rivalry on Saturday, and as the school braces to receive potentially crippling NCAA sanctions in the coming months for compliance violations.
Former Maine athletic director Blake James will become the acting AD at Miami, filling the role that Eichorst held for just under 18 months.
“I am deeply disappointed in Shawn’s departure to the University of Nebraska as I thoroughly enjoyed working with him,” Miami president Donna Shalala said in a statement. “We wish Shawn and his wonderful family the very best at their new post.”
Eichorst’s starting salary at Nebraska will be $973,000 annually, believed to be a significant raise over his Miami deal. As a private school, the Hurricanes typically do not release contract information.
At Nebraska, the 75-year-old Osborne — one of college football’s legendary coaches — announced late last month that he will retire Jan. 1 after five years on the job. He’ll become athletic director emeritus and stay involved in department operations through July 30 at Nebraska, where he won 255 games, 13 conference titles and three national championships as football coach.
Eichorst will start at Nebraska on Oct. 9, first as a special assistant to Chancellor Harvey Perlman, then assume Osborne’s role on Jan. 1.
“I am humbled by both the responsibility and opportunities that lie ahead and I hope to carry on the rich tradition of Husker excellence set by Coach Osborne and so many others,” Eichorst said in a statement released by Nebraska.
Eichorst has not spoken with Miami reporters in months, citing the ongoing NCAA investigation as the reason why requests were declined.
Perlman interviewed Eichorst and one other unidentified candidate. He said Eichorst, who previously worked at Wisconsin and grew up in that state, is a natural fit for Nebraska.
“I have no reason to believe Shawn was unhappy at Miami,” Perlman said. “He saw this as an attractive opportunity to get back to the Midwest and to get back to the Big Ten.”
Perlman said the problems at Miami were a prominent aspect of his discussions with Eichorst.
“It’s probably not a situation that anybody would like to be in,” Perlman said. “Everyone’s view is that he was surprised by it (NCAA violations) when he got there and that he responded in the way that I think we would want had a similar circumstance arose here, which we hope it doesn’t. It’s part of the reason why looking at a person who’s been in that role is helpful because you can see how they respond in difficult circumstances.”
Eichorst was hired by the Hurricanes after serving as Wisconsin’s chief operating officer for athletics, overseeing a $90 million budget and being closely involved with a $100 million construction project for ice hockey, swimming and football. Eichorst was highly recommended for the Miami job by his one-time boss at Wisconsin, athletic director Barry Alvarez — a close friend of Shalala and a Nebraska alum.