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 varsity intercollegiate teams, 622 student-athletes and more than 300 full-time employees. Nebraska has a reputation as a world-class academic institution and athletics program. Eichorst’s top priority is to provide all Husker student-athletes with world-class educational and athletic experiences and opportunities.
On Dec. 4, 2014, Eichorst announced that he had selected Mike Riley to be the Huskers’ head football coach, and Riley was introduced at a press conference the next day. One of the most respected people in the coaching profession, Riley was a highly sought-after coach who had previously turned down interest from several top programs while at Oregon State. The Riley hire was nationally 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.
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 and athletic successes, along with the academic and community achievements of Husker student-athletes.
Eichorst was the first Director of Athletics to visit the Big Ten-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.
Under Eichorst’s watch, Nebraska extended its nation-leading total of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans to 314, including seven in 2013-14. NU also increased its nation-leading total to 17 NCAA Top Ten Award winners, as Mary Weatherholt (women’s tennis) earned the honor in 2014. A total of 279 Huskers were honored at the Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet, with 123 earning their undergraduate degrees from August 2013 to May 2014. The Big Ten Conference honored 208 Husker student-athletes with Academic All-Big Ten awards in 2013-14, 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.
NU coaches were honored 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 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 home sellout streaks in place, including football (340 consecutive), volleyball (217 straight) and men’s basketball (16 prior to 2014-15 season).
Under Eichorst’s direction, Nebraska continues to focus on improving 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.
Another 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 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. Miami’s Hurricane Club grew to more than 5,000 nationwide. A total of $19 million in student-athlete support was generated in 2011-12, 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. 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 from 2009 to 2011. 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.
At South Carolina, Eichorst oversaw daily operations of the athletics 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 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.
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.