|University||University of Nebraska–Lincoln|
|Conference||Big Ten (primary)|
Patriot Rifle (rifle)
|NCAA||Division I (FBS)|
|Athletic director||Trev Alberts|
|Varsity teams||22 (9 men's, 13 women's)|
|Football stadium||Memorial Stadium|
|Basketball arena||Pinnacle Bank Arena|
|Ice hockey arena||John Breslow Ice Center|
|Baseball stadium||Hawks Field|
|Softball stadium||Bowlin Stadium|
|Soccer stadium||Hibner Stadium|
|Lacrosse stadium||Cook Pavilion|
|Other venues||Devaney Center|
Dillon Tennis Center
East Campus Bowling Lanes
Hawks Championship Center
Nebraska Rifle Range
Wilderness Ridge Golf Club
|Fight song||Hail Varsity|
|Colors||Scarlet and cream|
The Nebraska Cornhuskers (often abbreviated to Huskers) are the intercollegiate athletic teams that represent the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The university is a member of the Big Ten Conference and competes in NCAA Division I, fielding twenty-two varsity teams (nine men's, thirteen women's) in fifteen sports. Nineteen of these teams participate in the Big Ten, while rifle is a member of the single-sport Patriot Rifle Conference and beach volleyball and bowling compete as independents. The Cornhuskers have two official mascots, Herbie Husker and Lil' Red.
Early nicknames for the university's athletic teams included the Antelopes (later adopted by the University of Nebraska at Kearney), the Old Gold Knights, the Bugeaters, and the Mankilling Mastodons. Cornhuskers first appeared in a school newspaper headline ("We Have Met The Cornhuskers And They Are Ours"), after a 20–18 victory over Iowa in 1893; in this instance, the term referred to Iowa. It was first applied to Nebraska in 1899 by Nebraska State Journal writer Cy Sherman, who would later help originate the AP Poll. The nickname was officially adopted by the school the following year and by the state of Nebraska itself in 1945, when it became known as "The Cornhusker State."
Nebraska was a founding member of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1907 (later known as the Big Six, Big Seven, and Big Eight Conference) and competed in it for the next eighty-nine years, with a brief hiatus during World War I. In 1996, NU and the seven other members of the Big Eight merged with four Texas schools from the Southwest Conference to form the Big 12 Conference. Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011.
Nebraska's athletic programs have won twenty-nine national championships: eight in men's gymnastics and bowling, five in football and volleyball, and three in women's track and field.
|Men's sports||Women's sports|
|Track & field†||Softball|
|Wrestling||Swimming & diving|
|Track & field†|
|† – indoor and outdoor|
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers baseball
Nebraska's baseball team was founded in 1889, making it the oldest athletic program at the school. It was disjointed in its first decades, frequently disbanding for years at a time. The hiring of Tony Sharpe in 1947 brought stability to the program, but success was limited. Sharpe and his successor John Sanders combined to lead NU for fifty-one seasons, making just three NCAA tournament appearances between them. Nebraska hired Dave Van Horn in 1998 and he quickly turned the Huskers into a national power, making the program's first two College World Series appearances in 2001 and 2002. Mike Anderson took over for Van Horn and in 2005 led NU to its most successful season ever, including another College World Series trip. Anderson could not sustain this, however; since his departure in 2011 Nebraska has experienced modest success under head coaches Darin Erstad and Will Bolt.
In 2002, the Huskers moved from the aging Buck Beltzer Stadium to Hawks Field at Haymarket Park, considered among the best collegiate baseball facilities in the country at the time. Nebraska has ranked in the top thirty nationally in average attendance each year since moving to Hawks Field.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers men's basketball
Nebraska's men's basketball program has accomplished little of note since the establishment of the NCAA tournament in 1939. Nebraska has not won a regular-season conference championship since sharing the Big Seven title in 1950 and has not won an outright title since 1916. Nebraska's lengthiest period of success came in the first years of the sport's existence; the retroactive Premo-Porretta Power Poll ranked the Cornhuskers in the top ten three times between 1897 and 1903.
Nebraska did not make an NCAA tournament appearance until 1986, forty-six years after its establishment, and is the only power-conference program without a tournament victory. Much of the team's modest recent success came under Danny Nee, who coached the Huskers from 1987 to 2000. Nee is the team's all-time winningest head coach and led Nebraska to five of its seven NCAA tournament appearances, the 1996 NIT championship, and the 1994 Big Eight tournament championship (NU's only conference championship of any kind since 1950). Nebraska has made just two NCAA tournament appearances since the departure of Nee in 2000. The program has been led by former Chicago Bulls and Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg since 2019.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers women's basketball
Nebraska's women's basketball program began as a club sport in 1970 and became a varsity sport five years later. George Nicodemus led the Huskers to a 22–9 record and the second round of the AIAW Tournament in its first varsity season. Nicodemus left the program in 1977 and the school cycled through several head coaches before hiring Angela Beck in 1986. Beck led the Huskers to the Big Eight championship and the school's first NCAA tournament appearance in 1988. She left the program in 1997 and was replaced by Paul Sanderford, who took Nebraska to the tournament in each of his first three seasons. When Sanderford resigned in 2002 due to health issues, the school hired Creighton head coach Connie Yori.
Under Yori's guidance, Nebraska became a fixture in the national top 25 and NCAA tournament. In 2009–10 the Cornhuskers went 32-2, earned a number-one seed in the NCAA tournament, and reached the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in school history. Yori resigned in 2016 following an athletic department investigation into reports that she mistreated her players and assistant coaches. Former Huskers point guard Amy Williams was named Yori's replacement.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers bowling
Bowling has been an official varsity sport at Nebraska since 1996. Bill Straub, who led the bowling club program to national championships in 1991 and 1995, was hired to lead the varsity program and won three more WIBC titles. The inaugural NCAA Bowling Championship was held in 2003 and Nebraska won the first two national titles. Nebraska has won four more titles since, and has never been ranked outside the top ten since national collegiate rankings debuted in 1990. In 2019, Straub retired and longtime assistant Paul Klempa was named head coach.
Bowling competes as an independent, making it one of only three programs at Nebraska not affiliated with the Big Ten.
Nebraska's men's bowling club team won the American Bowling Congress intercollegiate championships in 1990 and 1996.
Nebraska's men's cross country team was established in 1938, winning its only conference championship just two years later. The women's program was established in 1975 to help satisfy Title IX requirements. Matt Wackerly has coached both teams since 2021, when he succeeded longtime coach David Harris.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers football
Nebraska's football team competes as part of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision in the Big Ten's West Division. Nebraska plays its home games at Memorial Stadium, where it has sold out every game since 1962. The team has been coached by Matt Rhule since 2023.
Nebraska is among the most storied programs in college football history. NU claims forty-six conference championships and five national championships (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, and 1997), and has won nine other national championships the school does not claim. NU's 1971 and 1995 title-winning teams are considered to be among the best in college football history. Heisman Trophy winners Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier, and Eric Crouch join twenty-two other Cornhuskers in the College Football Hall of Fame.
The program's first extended period of success came just after the turn of the century. Between 1900 and 1916, Nebraska had five undefeated seasons and completed a stretch of thirty-four consecutive games without a loss, still a program record. Despite a span of twenty-one conference championships in thirty-three seasons, the Cornhuskers didn't experience major national success until Bob Devaney was hired in 1962. In eleven seasons as head coach, Devaney won two national championships, eight conference titles, and coached twenty-two All-Americans, but perhaps his most lasting achievement was the hiring of Tom Osborne as offensive coordinator in 1969. Osborne was named Devaney's successor in 1973, and over the next twenty-five years established himself as one of the best coaches in college football history with his trademark I-form offense and revolutionary strength, conditioning, and nutrition programs. Following Osborne's retirement in 1997, Nebraska cycled through five head coaches before hiring Matt Rhule in 2022.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers men's golf
Nebraska's golf program began in 1935, led by College Football Hall of Fame coach Dana X. Bible. The team's greatest successes came under longtime head coach Larry Romjue, who took NU to all four of its NCAA Championship appearances. The program has been coached by Judd Cornell since 2022.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers women's golf
NU established a women's golf program in 1975, initially under the leadership of men's coach Larry Romjue. In 1979, Nebraska hired its first coach exclusively to coach women's golf. The Cornhuskers have made the NCAA Championship three times. The program has been coached by Jeanne Sutherland since 2022.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers men's gymnastics
Nebraska's men's gymnastics program is one of the most successful in the nation, with eight team national championships and forty-one NCAA event titles. Ten Huskers have represented the United States in the Olympics. Nebraska is one of only five Big Ten schools to sanction a men's gymnastics program.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers women's gymnastics
Nebraska's women's gymnastics program was established in 1975. The school's first team, led by head coach Karen Balke, was made up entirely of freshmen and sophomores. Judy Schalk replaced Balke after two seasons and led the Huskers to five conference titles and a national tournament bid. Rick Walton replaced Schalk and gave the school its first NCAA event title when Michele Bryant won the vault in 1990. He captured four straight Big Eight championships, each resulting in an NCAA Tournament appearance. Dan Kendig was named head coach in 1993 and was named Big Eight Coach of the Year after leading NU to the conference title. In 1997, Nebraska upset No. 1 Utah to reach the Super Six Finals for the first time in school history. Kendig won his sixth consecutive conference championship in 1999 and was named national coach of the year. Kendig's teams won four individual event titles; Heather Brink won the all-around and vault in 2000 and Richelle Simpson won the all-around and floor exercise in 2003. Brink was named Kendig's replacement in 2019 when he resigned in the midst of an NCAA investigation.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers rifle
Rifle became an official sport at the university in 1998. The team practices and hosts meets at the ten-point indoor firing range in NU's Military and Naval Sciences Building (ROTC). The team has been coached by Mindy Miles since 2021.
Although rifle is classified as a coeducational sport by the NCAA, Nebraska fields an all-female team. The program competed as an independent for six years before joining the Great America Rifle Conference in 2004. NU left the GARC for the Patriot Rifle Conference in 2021, making it one of only three programs at Nebraska not affiliated with the Big Ten.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers women's soccer
In 1995, Nebraska became the first Big Eight school to sponsor a varsity women's soccer program. John Walker was hired lead the new program and took his team to the NCAA Championship in his third year, the first of eight consecutive tournament appearances. However, since this streak ended in 2005 the Cornhuskers have reached the tournament just twice. The team has reached the round of 16 eight times and the national quarterfinals twice. Walker has earned NSCAA National Coach of the Year, NSCAA Central Region Coach of the Year and Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year during his tenure in Lincoln.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers softball
Nebraska's softball program started in 1970, before it was an official NCAA sport. Since the NCAA sanctioned softball in 1983, the Cornhuskers have made eight appearances in the Women's College World Series, held annually in Oklahoma City, and won the tenth-most games of any program. The program's greatest successes came under head coach Wayne Daigle shortly after the tournament's creation, culminating in a national runner-up finish in 1985 (though it was quickly vacated by the NCAA Committee on Infractions). Rhonda Revelle became the program's head coach in 1992, and has since won more games than any coach in Nebraska athletics history. Revelle has won seven conference titles and was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers men's tennis
Nebraska's men's tennis team was established in 1928 and has made the NCAA Championship twice, most recently in 2011. Five Cornhuskers have won conference championships, and seventeen have been named all-conference selections. In 1989, Steven Jung was the NCAA Singles runner-up and was named NU's first All-American. Jung is the only men's tennis player in the Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame.
NU made its only two NCAA appearances under Kerry McDermott, who led the program for thirty-seven years. Following the 2018 Big Ten tournament, Nebraska announced McDermott would not return and hired Sean Maymi as his replacement.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers women's tennis
NU's women's tennis program was established in 1976 and has made the NCAA Championship six times since 2000, most recently in 2013. Fourteen Cornhuskers have won conference championships, and twenty have been named all-conference selections. The team was coached by Scott Jacobson from 1992 until his retirement in 2022.
Nebraska's men's track and field team started in 1922 under coach Henry Schulte, who led the Huskers to nine conference titles before his retirement. His assistant, College Football Hall of Famer Ed Weir, replaced Schulte. Shortly after Weir retired to work as an athletic administrator in 1955, Frank Sevigne was hired to lead the program. Under Sevigne, the Huskers won eleven individual national championships, with forty-two All-American selections and 103 individual conference champions in combined indoor and outdoor events. Gary Pepin coached both the men's and women's teams from Sevigne's retirement in 1983 until his own retirement in 2022.
Nebraska's women's track and field program was created during the 1975–76 academic year and began competition in 1976. The team's first head coach was Roger Capan, but he left after only one season and was replaced by Carol Frost, whose son Scott would later quarterback the Cornhuskers to a national championship in 1997. Frost left Nebraska after the 1980 season, and Gary Pepin took over the program. Two years later Pepin assumed control of the men's program as well, a dual role he held until his retirement in 2022.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers women's volleyball
Nebraska's volleyball program is among the best in the history of the sport. The Cornhuskers have won five national championships (1995, 2000, 2006, 2015, 2017) and reached the national semifinals on ten other occasions. NU has won more games than any other program, and ranks second in national semifinal appearances, tournament wins, and tournament winning percentage. Nebraska has made the NCAA tournament for thirty-nine consecutive seasons and has never been ranked outside of the national top 20. The Cornhuskers have featured more AVCA All-Americans than any other program, including four National Player of the Year award winners.
Nebraska volleyball is one of the most popular spectator attractions in the state. In 2008, AVCA executive director Kathy DeBoer described Nebraska as "the epicenter of volleyball fandom." The Cornhuskers have led the country in attendance every year since moving to the Bob Devaney Sports Center in 2013 and have sold out over 300 consecutive home matches, an NCAA record for any women's sport. Before moving to the larger Devaney Center, Nebraska played at the historic NU Coliseum; the Cornhuskers had fifteen undefeated seasons and a record of 454–30 at the Coliseum, including a then-NCAA-record ninety consecutive home victories from 2005 to 2009.
The Cornhuskers have played in several of the highest-attended games in NCAA history, including the 2021 national championship game, when a record 18,755 fans watched Wisconsin defeat Nebraska in five sets at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. NU will play Omaha on August 30, 2023 at Memorial Stadium; over 80,000 tickets were purchased for the event, which is expected to set a new attendance record.
Nebraska added beach volleyball as the school's twenty-second intercollegiate varsity sport in 2013. In 2016, the NCAA began sponsoring a beach volleyball tournament (previously the sport was run by the AVCA), but Nebraska did not attempt to qualify. Nebraska runs one of the only beach volleyball programs in the Midwest and plays the bulk of its season during a spring break trip to California or Hawaii. NU's beach roster is made up entirely of players from its indoor program, and head coach John Cook has said the school views beach volleyball primarily as a training and recruiting tool for its indoor team. Beach volleyball competes as an independent, making it one of only three programs at Nebraska not affiliated with the Big Ten.
On March 8, 2017, Nebraska hosted Missouri Baptist at the Hawks Championship Center. The match was closed to the public due to space limitations, but was noteworthy as the first collegiate beach volleyball match to take place in the state of Nebraska. The Cornhuskers swept the Spartans 5–0.
In 2007, Jordan Larson and Sarah Pavan defeated student-athletes from seven other schools to win the Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship, an invitational tournament featuring two players per school.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers wrestling
Nebraska's wrestling program started in 1910 under the guidance of head coach R.G. Clapp. Despite modest success in the program's early years, NU has been a mainstay in the national top ten since Tim Neumann was hired in 1985. Mark Manning has led the Huskers since 2000 and twice won conference coach of the year. Former Nebraska standouts include 2000 Olympic gold medalist and 2004 bronze medalist Rulon Gardner, and two-time NCAA champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs.
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln sponsors club programs in badminton, baseball, women's basketball, bowling, broomball, climbing, cricket, curling, cycling, dodgeball, golf, women's hockey, judo, women's lacrosse, pickleball, rifle, rowing, men's rugby, running, sailing, shotgun, women's soccer, fast-pitch softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, men's ultimate Frisbee, men's volleyball, women's volleyball, and water ski.
Main article: List of Nebraska Cornhuskers athletic directors
In its earliest days, the Nebraska Department of Athletics had no central figure serving as the head of the department, and the history of how this position developed is unclear. Early on, the head of the athletics department often had only a partial or part-time role and held other titles and responsibilities. The first six heads of the Athletics Department held the title "Athletics Manager," first held by Raymond G. Clapp, NU's basketball coach and a professor of physical education. The first individual to hold the title "athletic director" was E. J. Stewart, who served from 1916 to 1919, while also coaching men's basketball and football during parts of his tenure. However, he is not considered Nebraska's first athletic director because it was not considered a full-time administrative position by the Board of Regents; this designation belong to Fred Luehring, who held the position from 1920 to 1922.
Many of Nebraska's athletic directors simultaneously coached one of the university's varsity programs. These included basketball, baseball, and swimming, but the majority of dual-role administrators were football coaches: Stewart, Fred Dawson, Dana X. Bible, Biff Jones, Glenn Presnell, Adolph J. Lewandowski, George Clark, and Bob Devaney[e]. NU's longest-serving athletic director was Devaney, who led the department from 1967 to 1992. Trev Alberts was appointed Nebraska's fifteenth full-time athletic director on July 14, 2021.
The University of Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame was established in 2015, located just northeast of Memorial Stadium. Twenty-two former student-athletes were honored in the inaugural class. At least one student-athlete from each of Nebraska's varsity sports has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Football is the most-represented sport with thirteen student-athletes and coaches inducted.
Class of 2015
Class of 2016
Class of 2017
Class of 2018
Class of 2019
Class of 2020
Class of 2021
Class of 2022
Class of 2023
Main article: List of University of Nebraska–Lincoln Olympians
A total of 111 athletes from NU have combined to compete in 163 Olympic Games. Nebraska athletes have won fifty-four medals, including sixteen gold medals, while representing thirty countries. Merlene Ottey is Nebraska's most decorated Olympian, winning nine medals and competing in seven Olympic Games, a record for track and field competitors.
Nebraska cycled through several official mascots before settling on the now-familiar Herbie Husker and Lil' Red. The first of these was Corncob Man, a man in green overalls with an ear of corn for a head. After just a few years, the university sought a more "representative" mascot and debuted Huskie the Husker, a farmer who stood ten feet tall and wore overalls with a straw hat on top of a fiberglass head. Huskie soon gave way to Mr. Big Red (more commonly known as Harry Husker); Harry was equally tall but dressed in a blazer and red wide-brim hat. Harry's head was so large it couldn't fit on the team's traveling bus and was so heavy the student wearing the costume had to be switched every forty-five minutes.
The physical demands of the Harry costume meant the university was soon looking for another mascot, and in 1974 NU acquired the rights to Herbie Husker, based on the design of Lubbock, Texas artist Dirk West. Nebraska hired Disney cartoonist Bob Johnson to refine West's design into a costume and Herbie made his first appearance at a Nebraska football game at the 1974 Cotton Bowl Classic, a 19–3 Cornhuskers victory over Texas. Mr. Big Red wasn't officially retired until 1988, but was infrequently seen while coexisting with Herbie.
Historically, Herbie had blond hair and dressed in denim overalls (with an ear of corn in the pocket), a white undershirt, and a red cowboy hat. Prior to the 2003 season, Herbie's appearance was altered to include a red workshirt, blue jeans, and workboots in an effort to update the overall appearance of the state's agricultural workers and general public; however, the new design was not well-received and many of the modifications were reverted in 2023.
Since 1994, Herbie has often been joined on the sideline by the inflatable Lil' Red. Initially, Lil' Red was created to appeal to younger fans and to primarily represent the school's volleyball team, which occasionally played at the same time as Nebraska's football team. Lil' Red was so popular that then-athletic director Bill Byrne considered discontinuing Herbie entirely, but later decided the mascots would coexist. The mascots are now frequently seen together across all sports.
Herbie was named the 2005 National Mascot of the year at halftime of the 2006 Capital One Bowl. Lil' Red won the NCA National Mascot Competition in 1999 and was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2007.
Decades of high attendance and well-traveling crowds across all sports have earned Nebraska fans a reputation for being fiercely loyal and dedicated. The school's athletic department proclaimed their fans "the greatest fans in college football" in an inscription above each of the twenty-four gates at Memorial Stadium. In 2001, President George W. Bush stated that he "can't go without saying how impressed I am by the Nebraska fan base. Whether it be for women's volleyball or football, there's nothing like the Big Red."
Memorial Stadium is sometimes referred to as The Sea of Red due to the home crowd's propensity to wear the color. Nebraska has sold out every home football game since November 3, 1962; at 389 it is the longest sellout streak in college athletics history. The streak, historically a source of pride for the school and its fans, has been scrutinized in the decades following Tom Osborne's retirement as NU's athletic department has occasionally been forced to sell a large number of tickets at a discounted rate to keep the streak alive. Cornhuskers fans are noted for often applauding the visiting team as they leave the field at the end of the game. Nebraska is considered to have one of the best-traveling fanbases in the country – the most famous example of this occurred in 2000, when an estimated 35,000 Nebraska fans watched No. 1 Nebraska defeat No. 25 Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium.
Nebraska's volleyball program has sold out 303 consecutive matches between the Nebraska Coliseum and Devaney Center, the longest streak of its kind in women's college sports. The Cornhuskers have led the country in attendance for nine straight seasons[i], and have played in nine of the ten highest-attended college volleyball matches ever played. Nebraska's five-set loss to Wisconsin in the 2021 national championship match broke college volleyball records for both attendance and viewership.
Main article: Nebraska Cornhuskers academic honors and awards
Nebraska has produced 347 Academic All-Americans, more than any other Division I school and second only to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology among all universities. Nebraska's 108 Academic All-Americans in football is forty-one more than second-place Penn State; the school also leads all volleyball programs in Academic All-Americans with thirty-eight.
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