Eichorst receives good reviews in Nebraska athletics study
Athletic director Shawn Eichorst received mostly positive reviews from subordinates in an internal study of the leadership and culture of the Nebraska athletic department.
The university on Tuesday released findings of the review, which began in January and was conducted by the SilverStone Group of Omaha.
''I'm pleased that the review has confirmed that under Shawn Eichorst's leadership, Husker athletics is a high-performing department,'' university President Hank Bounds said. ''We have the right focus - the success and well-being of our student-athletes - and Nebraskans should be proud that we are a leader in this area.''
Electronic surveys were sent to 327 people, most of them department employees, and 237 responded. Telephone and in-person interviews also were conducted. Most of the people surveyed were described as support staff. Eighteen head coaches and 33 assistant coaches received surveys, as did 15 people described as ''outside of the department of athletics stakeholders.''
The report said Eichorst is viewed as having a ''favorable'' leadership style by most of his constituents and the perception of the senior leadership team is ''very positive.''
Faculty representative Jo Potuto said she has extensive communication with athletic department staff and that ''a culture of fear does not exist in this department.''
The report said there is a general view that financial compensation is ''relatively low compared to the amount of work that is required - especially in the lower staff levels of the organization.''
There also was concern expressed about ''communication challenges'' involving some coaches and support staff, and some assistant coaches and support staff complained that their input is not sought on matters concerning them. A number of coaches said some staffing changes and firings had created the perception that the senior leadership ''is arbitrarily engaging in disruptive, surprising and questionable staffing decisions.''
Eichorst has faced criticism for not being more visible to fans and media. Eichorst has said in interviews he's more comfortable keeping the focus on athletes and coaches. The report noted that visibility is part of the job and that Eichorst has made more than 500 public appearances since he took over three years ago and has done 45 radio appearances.
''Shawn also has opportunities to strengthen communications so that internal and external stakeholders can be even more closely engaged with the athletic department's goals and activities,'' Bounds said. ''He has committed to taking steps to maximize those opportunities.''
Bounds said he initiated the review as part of this year's transition from chancellor Harvey Perlman to Ronnie Green.
Eichorst said his department is operating with integrity.
''We are a model program that provides the best student-athlete experience in all of intercollegiate athletics, a conclusion supported by the program review,'' Eichorst said. ''As with any organization, there are also opportunities to get better, both for the department as a whole and me as a leader. I welcome this process and have committed to President Bounds and Chancellor Green that I will use every day as an opportunity to improve in areas identified in the review.''