Shawn Eichorst was named the University of Nebraska’s 14th Director of Athletics on Oct. 4, 2012, by Chancellor Harvey Perlman. Eichorst leads a tradition-rich athletic program of 24 intercollegiate teams, 600-plus student-athletes and more than 300 full-time employees. Nebraska is a world-class academic institution with one of the finest athletic programs in all of college sports.
Eichorst has made nearly 300 public appearances describing his primary mission to lead Nebraska Athletics in providing Husker student-athletes with the resources and support they need to be successful in academics, athletics and life. Eichorst’s philosophy is to ensure that the health, safety and welfare of student-athletes is at the heart of every action taken and every decision made.
He serves on the Chancellor’s Senior Administrative Team and regularly meets with campus administrators and deans. Eichorst’s monthly radio show and Connecting on Campus column promote the university’s academic successes, along with the academic, athletic and community achievements of all Husker student-athletes.
Eichorst was the first Director of Athletics to visit the Big Ten Conference-based Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) at its Champaign, Ill., headquarters. The CIC is a highly successful academic-based consortium of 15 schools, including all 14 in the Big Ten Conference. Nebraska is leading the Big Ten and the CIC in several areas, including the Digital Humanities and head injury research.
On Dec. 4, 2014, Eichorst announced the hiring of Mike Riley as the Huskers’ new head football coach. One of the most respected coaches in the profession, Riley was a highly sought-after coach and the hire was highly praised by prominent members of the media, the coaching fraternity, Riley’s former players and current and former Nebraska student-athletes.
The overwhelmingly positive reaction to the high-profile hiring spoke not only to Riley’s reputation, but also to Eichorst’s ability to look beyond traditional measures by which coaches are judged and find an ideal cultural fit to lead the tradition-rich Nebraska football program. Eichorst secured one of the finest football minds in the world, a teacher of young men and a positive-thinking leader who will represent Nebraska Athletics in a first-class manner while reflecting the department’s core values of Integrity, Trust, Respect, Teamwork and Loyalty.
Under Eichorst’s watch, Nebraska extended its nation-leading total of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans to 314, including seven in 2013-14. Nebraska also increased its nation-leading total to 17 NCAA Top Ten Award winners, as Mary Weatherholt (women’s tennis) earned the honor in 2014. In 2013-14, a total of 279 Huskers were honored at the Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet, with 123 earning their undergraduate degrees and the Big Ten Conference honored 208 Husker student-athletes with Academic All-Big Ten awards, an increase of 20 from 2012-13.
In 2013-14, Nebraska became one of only two NCAA institutions, and the first Big Ten program in history to qualify for a bowl game or NCAA postseason play in each of the following sports: football, volleyball and women’s soccer in the fall; men’s and women’s basketball in the winter; and baseball and softball in the spring.
The Huskers performed well with 15 of Nebraska’s 24 sports qualifying for bowl/NCAA postseason action. In the fall, the football team defeated Georgia in the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl; volleyball advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight; and soccer won the Big Ten regular-season title as well as the postseason tournament and defeated Southeastern Louisiana in Lincoln in the NCAA first round. The women’s basketball team won the Big Ten Conference Tournament and won an NCAA Tournament game for the second-straight year. The men’s basketball team made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 16 years, marking the third time that both the men’s and women’s programs qualified for the NCAA Basketball Tournament in the same year and the first since 1997-98. Softball tied for the Big Ten regular-season championship, then went on to win an NCAA Regional and advance to a Super Regional for the second straight year, taking eventual national runner-up Alabama to the wire. The baseball team played for the Big Ten title for the second straight year and defeated Binghamton (New York) in the NCAA Stillwater Regional.
Eight other Husker teams competed in NCAA postseason action in 2013-14. The women’s bowling team was the NCAA runner-up; women’s rifle finished fifth in the NCAA; women’s gymnastics advanced to the NCAA Super Six; men’s gymnastics placed eighth at the national meet; wrestling finished 11th nationally; men’s track and field placed 17th indoors and 12th outdoors; and women’s track and field placed 19th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Nebraska coaches were recognized for their efforts with Tim Miles (men’s basketball) and John Walker (women’s soccer) earning national coach-of-the-year honors. Four Husker coaches earned Big Ten Conference coach-of-the-year honors, including Miles, Walker, Rhonda Revelle (softball) and Connie Yori (women’s basketball).
Nebraska’s fan support is unparalleled in college athletics. In fact, in 2013-14 with approximately 19,000 new season ticket holders across three new and/or expanded facilities, top 15 national rankings for average attendance were reached across six sports, including football, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball. Thanks to our loyal fans, three sports have consecutive home sellout streaks in place, including football (340), volleyball regular season (188) and men’s basketball (32 including the 2014-15 season).
Under Eichorst’s direction, Nebraska continues to focus on improving its facilities and the game-day atmosphere at every venue, including a $12.3 million upgrade of its wireless networks in and around Memorial Stadium completed in 2014. It is the largest wireless network system installation at a college stadium in history. The upgrade includes a new sound system, IPTV system installation and smartphone applications.
In the summer of 2013, Memorial Stadium expansion increased capacity while adding the innovative Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory (NAPL) inside East Stadium next to the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior (CB3). The men’s and women’s basketball teams became the primary tenants at Pinnacle Bank Arena, and the renovated Devaney Center became the home for Husker volleyball, wrestling and the men’s and women’s gymnastics programs.
In the spring of 2015, the world-class, $20.4 million Nebraska Soccer and Tennis Complex, located just north of the Devaney Center and Innovation Campus, will be completed. The facilities will rank among the best in the Big Ten and nation.
Eichorst came to Nebraska after serving as Director of Athletics at Miami in 2011 and 2012. During his tenure, he 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. A total of $19 million in student-athlete support was generated in 2011-12, the Hurricane Club grew to more than 5,000 nationwide, and $14.2 million in capital gifts was raised to support the Center for Athletic Excellence.
Eichorst hired legendary men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga, who led Miami to the NIT second round in his first season and the NCAA Sweet 16 in his second. The women’s basketball program posted its highest national ranking in school history (No. 5) and advanced to the NCAA second round. The women’s tennis team advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth straight season, and the baseball team made its 40th consecutive NCAA appearance. The women’s soccer team posted the first NCAA Tournament win in history, and the volleyball team made its third straight NCAA Tournament trip.
Before heading to Miami, Eichorst was the Deputy Athletics Director at Wisconsin. He was the Chief Operating Officer and oversaw the day-to-day operations (23 intercollegiate programs, 850 student-athletes, 320 full-time employees) under Director of Athletics and former Husker Barry Alvarez. Eichorst was involved in the design and planning of a new ice hockey and swimming facility, and the Student-Athlete Performance Center at Camp Randall Stadium.
From 2004 to 2006, Eichorst served as the Senior Associate Athletics Director for Administration at South Carolina, overseeing the department’s daily operations as well as the football and baseball programs under legendary coaches Lou Holtz, Steve Spurrier and Ray Tanner, respectively. The football team was bowl-eligible each season, and the baseball team competed in the 2004 College World Series. Additionally, he coordinated and supervised multi-million dollar facility projects, including a football training facility.
From 1999 to 2003, Eichorst served as the Director of Athletics at Wisconsin-Whitewater, which produced four top 10 percent finishes in the NACDA Directors Cup, one NCAA team title, two NCAA 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.
A native of Lone Rock, Wis., Eichorst was an all-conference defensive back, three-time letterwinner and 1990 football team captain for Wisconsin-Whitewater. He graduated magna cum laude in business from UW-Whitewater in 1990 and earned a law degree from Marquette in 1995. He practiced law in Milwaukee until 1999. He is a past member of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee and the State Bar of Wisconsin Board of Governors. He previously served as an assistant adjunct professor of law at Marquette Law School, where he taught classes in sports law. He 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.