Shawn Eichorst was named Nebraska’s 14th Director of Athletics on October 4, 2012, by Chancellor Harvey Perlman. Eichorst leads a tradition-rich athletics program of 24 varsity intercollegiate teams, 600-plus student-athletes and more than 275 full-time employees.
Nebraska’s reputation as a world-class academic institution and its stature as one of the strongest and most balanced athletic departments in collegiate athletics supports Eichorst’s top priority, which is to ensure that all Husker student-athletes have what they need to be successful in academics, in athletics and in life.
Eichorst’s own academic and athletic roots are planted in the small college ranks where he earned his business degree and was an all-conference defensive back and football captain at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, an NCAA Division III athletic powerhouse. He went on to earn a law degree at Marquette University and practiced law before serving at his alma mater and in senior administrative positions at the University of South Carolina and the University of Wisconsin before becoming the Director of Athletics at the University of Miami.
Since taking over for legendary Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne as Director of Athletics on January 3, 2013, Eichorst has immersed himself in Nebraska's rich traditions. He has made nearly 300 public appearances, including nearly 200 speaking engagements in the state. He serves on the Chancellor’s Senior Administrative Team and regularly meets with campus administrators and deans. Eichorst’s monthly radio show and his Connecting on Campus column promote university academic and athletic successes, along with the academic and community achievements of Husker student-athletes.
Eichorst has represented Nebraska at a number of events out of state and was the first Director of Athletics to visit the Big Ten-based Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) at its Champaign, Illinois, headquarters. The CIC is a highly successful academic-based consortium of 15 schools – 14 from the Big Ten Conference, plus the University of Chicago, a founding member when the CIC was established in 1956. Nebraska is leading the Big Ten and the CIC in several areas, including work in Digital Humanities and in head injury research.
Under Eichorst’s watch, Nebraska extended its nation-leading total of Academic All-Americans to 314, including seven student-athletes who earned the honor in 2013-14. Nebraska also increased its nation-leading total of 17 NCAA Top Ten Award Winners, with women’s tennis student-athlete Mary Weatherholt earning the honor in 2014. A total of 279 Husker student-athletes were honored at the annual Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet, and 208 Husker student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2013-14, an increase of 20 from 2012-13.
Nebraska reached a milestone in athletic performance in 2013-14, becoming one of only two NCAA institutions – and the first Big Ten program in history – to qualify for a bowl game, and advanced to NCAA postseason in the major team sports of volleyball and soccer in the fall; men’s basketball and women’s basketball in the winter; and baseball and softball in the spring. Nebraska was the only institution to win at least one game in the postseason in six of those seven sports.
The Nebraska football team completed its sixth straight nine-win season, while playing in its third consecutive New Year’s Day bowl game, a 24-19 win over SEC power Georgia. The volleyball team advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight while playing its first season in the remodeled Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Nebraska soccer team made a return trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005, and advanced to the NCAA Second Round after winning Big Ten regular season and tournament titles.
The women’s basketball team captured Nebraska’s first-ever conference tournament title, earning an NCAA Tournament win for the second straight year. The Huskers also hosted an NCAA Regional at Pinnacle Bank Arena, marking the first time since 1993 that the NCAA Basketball Tournament came to Lincoln. The men’s basketball team earned Nebraska’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1998, following a top-four finish in the powerful Big Ten Conference. The Husker men’s and women’s basketball teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament in the same season for the first time since 1998 and the third time overall.
The bowling team earned an NCAA runner-up finish, and the rifle team finished fifth at the NCAA Championships. The women’s gymnastics program made the NCAA Super Six and earned a share of the Big Ten Conference title. The men’s gymnastics team added an eighth-place finish at the NCAA Championships, and the wrestling team claimed 11th at the NCAA Championships, its top showing at nationals since 2009.
The softball team shared the Big Ten regular-season title and advanced to an NCAA Super Regional for the second consecutive season. The baseball team earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2008 after playing in the Big Ten Championship game for a second straight year. It marked the first time in school history that Nebraska’s baseball and men’s basketball teams advanced to NCAA Tournament play in the same season. The Husker men’s track and field team finished 12th in the NCAA Outdoor Championships, after finishing 17th at the NCAA Indoor meet. The women’s team earned a 19th-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
In addition to Nebraska’s overall team success in 2013-14, the Huskers also excelled individually, producing 42 All-Americans who claimed 51 awards, including 29 first-team All-America honors. The 42 Husker All-Americans were the most in more than a decade.
Attendance at Nebraska events also reached new heights in 2013-14, with the Huskers ranking among the top 20 nationally in football, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball. Nebraska set a school record with 90,933 fans per game, which ranked No. 9 nationally, as the Huskers extended their NCAA-record home sellout streak in Memorial Stadium to 333 consecutive games.
For the first time, Nebraska’s volleyball program led the nation in attendance with a school-record 8,175 fans per match in its first season at the Devaney Center. The Huskers extended their NCAA-record sellout streak to 200 consecutive matches. The men’s basketball program shattered a school record by averaging 15,419 fans per game with 16 straight sellouts in its first season at Pinnacle Bank Arena to rank 13th nationally. The women ranked 11th in the nation with 6,161 fans per game, while all four programs smashed records in season ticket sales.
With the focus of improving the game-day atmosphere in each of its venues, the athletic department announced in June of 2014 a $12.3 million upgrade of its wireless networks in and around Memorial Stadium. It is the largest installation of a wireless network system in a collegiate stadium in history. The upgrade includes a new sound system, IPTV system installation and innovative smartphone applications.
In the summer of 2013, three facility projects were completed. The expansion of Memorial Stadium increased seating capacity while at the same time, the innovative Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory (NAPL) was built inside the East Stadium, right next to UNL’s Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior (CB3) research facility. Nebraska’s men’s and women’s basketball teams became the primary tenants at Pinnacle Bank Arena in downtown Lincoln, and the renovated Devaney Center became the home of four Husker programs – volleyball, men’s gymnastics, women’s gymnastics and wrestling.
The next major facility project is a world-class, $20.4 million Nebraska Soccer and Tennis Complex, located just north of the Devaney Center and Innovation Campus. When completed in 2015, the facilities will rank among the best in the Big Ten.
Eichorst came to Nebraska from the University of Miami where he served as the Director of Athletics in 2011 and 2012. During his tenure, Eichorst helped grow the academic reputation of an already sterling program with NCAA Top 10 recognition in Academic Progress Rates (APR) for five programs – football, baseball, men's diving, women's cross country and women's golf.
Under Eichorst’s leadership, the Hurricane Club grew to more than 5,000 members nationwide and $19 million in student-athlete support was generated in 2011-12. An additional $14.2 million in capital gifts was raised towards the Center for Athletic Excellence facility project, which was recently completed.
Eichorst hired legendary men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga and both the Hurricane men’s and women’s basketball programs advanced to the postseason, with the women posting the highest national ranking in school history (No. 5) and advanced to the NCAA second round, while the men set a program record for conference wins and advanced to the NIT second round. The women's tennis team advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth straight season. The baseball program extended its NCAA postseason appearances record streak to 40 straight seasons. The women's soccer team posted the first NCAA Tournament win in program history and the volleyball team advanced to the NCAA postseason for the third consecutive year and finished the season ranked 15th nationally.
Before his appointment at Miami, Eichorst served from 2009 to 2011 as the Deputy Athletics Director at the University of Wisconsin, where his responsibilities under Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez included serving as the department’s Chief Operating Officer and overseeing the day-to-day operations (23 intercollegiate athletics programs, 850 student-athletes, 320 full-time employees) of the highly successful athletics program. At Wisconsin, Eichorst was involved in the design and planning of a new ice hockey and swimming facility and Student-Athlete Performance Center in the north end zone of Camp Randall Stadium. He joined the Badgers’ staff in 2006 as a Senior Associate Athletics Director and was promoted to Executive Associate Athletics Director in 2007 by Alvarez, a former Nebraska All-Big Eight linebacker and graduate.
Eichorst served as the University of South Carolina’s Senior Associate Athletics Director for Administration from 2004 to 2006. With the Gamecocks, Eichorst oversaw daily operations of the department and supervised Lou Holtz’s and Steve Spurrier’s football programs and Ray Tanner’s baseball program. The football team was bowl-eligible each year during Eichorst’s tenure, and the baseball program competed in the 2004 College World Series. Additionally, he coordinated and supervised multi-million dollar facility projects, including a state-of-the-art football training facility.
Eichorst served as the Director of Athletics at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, from 1999 until 2003. Under his tenure, UW-Whitewater developed into one of the nation’s top Division III athletic programs, with four top 10 percent National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Directors Cup finishes; one NCAA team championship; two NCAA team runner-up finishes and five individual national champions. The program also featured 11 CoSIDA Academic All-America selections, seven NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners and 74 All-Americans during his time as Director of Athletics.
A native of Lone Rock, Wisconsin, Eichorst was an all-conference defensive back, a three-time letterwinner and 1990 team captain for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football team. He graduated magna cum laude in business from UW-Whitewater in 1990 and earned a law degree from Marquette University in 1995. He practiced law in Milwaukee before accepting the position at Wisconsin-Whitewater.
He is a past member of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee and the State Bar of Wisconsin Board of Governors. He also previously served as an assistant adjunct professor of law at Marquette University Law School, where he taught classes in sports law. He currently serves on the Marquette University National Sports Law Institute Board of Advisors. In 2006, Marquette awarded Eichorst the Sports Law Alumnus of the Year award. He also is a graduate of the Sports Management Institute and serves on its Executive Committee.
Eichorst and his wife Kristin have three sons: Jack, Joseph and Bennett.