New Director of Athletics, Troy Dannen, outlines his vision for Husker Athletics

March 26, 2024, 5:45 p.m. ·

Troy Dannen stands at the podium.
Troy Dannen speaks to athletes, coaches and stakeholders for the first time publicly. (Photo by Aaron Bonderson, Nebraska Public Media News)

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Dannen laid out several different elements of his vision and plans for the state’s largest athletic department.

He said Husker Athletics has all the pieces to succeed.

For how well those pieces fit together at Nebraska, he said university system president, Chris Kabourek, and many others have given him a clear idea.

“From the time I talked to the governor, to a lot of my discussions with Chris, to just the questions I would poke around a little bit to find out, I am fully convinced and I was fully convinced before the job offer came that the alignment is here in order to succeed,” Dannen said.

Troy Dannen shakes hands with interim University of Nebraska president, Chris Kabourek.
University of Nebraska interim president, Chris Kabourek (left), introduces his new hire for Director of Athletics, Troy Dannen (right) and Dannen's family. (Photo by Aaron Bonderson, Nebraska Public Media News)

He spent just six months at the University of Washington before moving on to Nebraska. He said the decision to leave was about the opportunity at NU.

Diversity, equity and inclusion programs have become a hot topic for debate in Nebraska and at universities across the country.

Dannen said he didn’t know what he didn’t know prior to the murder of George Floyd.

“The athletes we have that we are recruiting are going to come from all over the country and some from all over the world,” he said. “And they come in here with their own beliefs, expectations, and it’s up to us to support and empower those inside the department.”

“We have to take care of our kids,” he said, and that it’s all about supporting student athletes.

From the academic perspective, past leaders have pointed to the need to join the Association of American Universities.

He called UNL one of the top research institutions in the country, saying the school deserves to join other prestigious universities at the AAU.

“I understand there’s a commitment (at UNL) to get back into the AAU. I really appreciated that, because you know why? I want to be the best,” Dannen said. “I want to surround myself with the best. In a lot of ways, you’re defined by who you dance with.”