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Trev Albert's Contract Extension

Have you heard about the new contract extension for the University of Nebraska's Athletic Director? If you haven't, you might get a little overwhelmed by the numbers. I was surprised by the tremendous increase in salary plus the guarantee of future bonuses. 

Trev Alberts is a former UNL football player who now serves as the Athletic Director at UNL. According to his new contract extension, his annual base salary will go up from $800,000 to $1.7 million, and it will increase again to $2.1 million in 2026, according to a news release from the University of Nebraska system.

Alberts will be paid a $500,000 retention bonus if he stays through September 2025, with an annual $300,000 retention bonus every following year thereafter, if he stays. Then, he will receive an additional $3 million bonus if he completes his entire eight-year contract. The agreement is aimed at keeping Alberts at UNL through 2031.  If Alberts completes the contract, he will receive a total of $5.3 million in retention bonuses, $3 million for staying until 2031, and $16 million if his salary doesn't increase above the $2.1 million in 2026. So, he is guaranteed to receive a minimum of $24.3 million. 

This contract extension was agreed to at a time when UNL is making some very serious budget cuts. The University of Nebraska system is currently facing a $58 million shortfall by the year 2025. So, last week UNL announced that the school will be eliminating 50 staff positions, closing all of the open faculty positions, and reducing funding for graduate and student workers due to that school's $12 million budget shortfall.  

Similar cuts have been scheduled to take place at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. UNK will downsize their faculty by 24.5 positions, and eliminate nine degree programs, including theater, recreation management, and geography, in order to make up for that school's $4.3 million deficit. Similar cuts may soon be coming for UNO and the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Funding for the athletic department runs separately from funding for the academic programs at the University of Nebraska system. I do not need to be reminded of that fact. However, it is my understanding that the athletic department has been transferring up to $10 million annually to the university's general fund. Contract extensions like this one could cut into that money or eliminate it altogether.

Contract extensions like the one given to Trev Alberts could become a problem going forward. I find it interesting that this contract was negotiated and put into place by President Ted Carter, who will be leaving soon for the Ohio State University. While he negotiated this exorbitant contract extension, he will not be sticking around to pay for it. 

I remember a time many years ago when head football coach, Tom Osborne, was offered a pay raise. Coach Osborne refused the raise. He declined it because he said the expectation of that kind of a contract would send a wrong message about what the University of Nebraska system stands for and what it values. So, the question now needs to be asked: What message does this kind of a contract extension send to the students and families who may have to pay higher tuition or who may have to travel out of state to attend another college or university that offers a degree program for their major. 

I serve on the Appropriations Committee of the State Legislature and I will keep these kinds of questions and concerns in mind when the University of Nebraska comes before our committee asking for more money.

 

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