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September 26, 2012With Tom Osborne announcing that he will retire from his position as Nebraska's athletic director on January 1, the natural inclination is to wonder who will replace him.
Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman addressed the topic at Monday's press conference. Both Perlman and Osborne have known for a while that Osborne was considering retirement, so the chancellor asked Osborne to let him know of his plans a few months before any decision was made.
Osborne informed Perlman of his intentions in August and the chancellor has been busy since then. He said he has hired Jed Hughes, head of the international sports division at Korn/Ferry International, as a consultant in the seach.
Hughes recently aided Michigan hire their new athletic director and helped the Big 12 select a new commissioner after Dan Beebe's dismissal.
"(Hughes) is knowledgeable about intercollegiate athletics and he is well-connected in intercollegiate athletics," Perlman said. "More importantly, in my conversations with him, I think he understood that it's not just experience and credentials. It's a personality and a viewpoint that fit with Nebraska and what Nebraska has accomplished. I think he has a very good understanding of that.
"He has and is continuing to conduct and exhaustive search of credentials of people around the country that we might be interested in and that fit with the Nebraska scene. He will look at the credentials of people within this department as well as external people."
Perlman has also assembled a group of 12 to 15 individuals to serve as adviser during the search. The group includes coaches, former student athletes, donors and members of the community. Perlman said that Osborne's input will be included in any decision.
Perlman said that several candidates have been interviewed for the position already and he may very well conduct more interviews. One individual he hasn't talked to yet is associate athletic director Jamie Williams, who joined the department in July. Williams played tight end for Osborne from 1979-82 and is a member of the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.
"I'm interested in helping elevate the University of Nebraska in any way I can," Williams said. "I went to school here. I played here. I bled here and I got my heart broke here. I had fun here. I learned how to pheasant hunt here.
"For me, I don't know what this means. My goal today is to help this program, and right now that's with a heavy heart. It's kind of like Master Yoda putting his lightsaber down."
Williams said the last time he spoke to Perlman was at the tipping-off party for the East Stadium expansion project. He did take some time to reflect on Osborne's legacy at Nebraska.
"Most people get in a competitive environment and they crumble and you see the worst side of them," Williams said. "He was in a competitive environment and you see the best side of him. They don't make a lot of Tom Osbornes. I think they kind of broke the mold after that. He's such a throwback."