Regents consider giving Husker Althletics oversight to NU president

May 24, 2023, 10:20 a.m. ·

Ted Carter, president of the University of Nebraska system, testified earlier this year at the Nebraska Legislature
Ted Carter, president of the University of Nebraska system (Photo courtesy of Todd Gottula, University of Nebraska at Kearney)

LINCOLN — The University of Nebraska Board of Regents next week will consider a proposed bylaw change that could shift the direction and oversight of Husker Athletics to the NU president.

Regents Tim Clare of Lincoln and Rob Schafer of Beatrice have proposed shifting authority of Husker Athletics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln chancellor to NU President Ted Carter. Clare and Schafer are the respective chair and vice chair of the board.

The change would be put forward “for information only” at the May 31 meeting and brought for a vote at a June 22 meeting. If passed, the change would be effective July 1.

“Especially at the Power 5 level, today’s college athletics programs are large and highly complex entities, with enormous financial, legal and reputational implications for their entire institutions,” the regents said in a statement. “We’re in the midst of the most intense period of change in our lifetimes for college athletics. Nebraska needs to stay on the leading edge of this new normal.”

Currently, the NU president hires the UNL chancellor, who is then charged with making hiring decisions within the athletic department. That individual also serves on the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors overseeing Big Ten policies, budget and operations.

The council also is charged with hiring the Big Ten commissioner.

Clare told the Examiner on Tuesday that intercollegiate athletics is “changing daily,” including in the NCAA and the transfer portal. So, shifting authority to Carter seemed a “natural” fit.

“I think intercollegiate athletics is in search of a leader who can help them navigate these issues,” Clare said.

The proposed bylaw change would not affect NU’s athletic departments at its Omaha or Kearney campuses. It comes as UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green plans to retire at the end of June.

Clare and Schafer noted that “Husker Athletics is the single most iconic brand to the state of Nebraska.”

“It makes sense for the president of the university system, with a direct line to the Board of Regents, to have oversight of the program that serves as the front door to the university for so many Nebraskans,” the regents said.

Rodney Bennet is the priority candidate for UNL chancellor.

On Monday, Carter announced Rodney Bennett as the priority candidate to succeed Green as chancellor at NU’s largest campus. Bennett’s candidacy would also be subject to approval at the board’s June 22 meeting. Bennett is a 30-year veteran of higher education and former president of the University of Southern Mississippi.

Clare said Bennett will be able to hit the ground running with budgetary, enrollment, research and legislative priorities as Carter steps up as a national leader.

Next week’s special meeting will also feature an update on NU’s current fiscal status, budget planning strategies and future outlooks.

Clare said in a statement that Carter has, for the past few months, “accurately [described] the fiscal challenges facing all of higher education.”

“We want to make sure — and we want all Nebraskans to understand through our transparency — that as a university, we not only recognize the fiscal realities before us but that we are proactively planning to get ahead of them,” Clare said. “We can’t wait until next year’s operating budget is before us to have a full, frank public discussion about the opportunities and challenges ahead.”

The May 31 meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in Varner Hall, 3835 Holdrege St. in Lincoln, and will be livestreamed here.