As the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s first year of full Division-1 eligibility winds down, it’s a good time to learn more about the man who led the Mavericks through the transition.
For Nebraska natives, the name Trev Alberts might sound familiar. His ties to the University of Nebraska first started in 1990. After being recruited by Nebraska coach Tom Osborne, Alberts ultimately became one of the top defensive players in all of college football.
During his final season in 1993, Alberts especially made a name for himself when he was announced the first Butkus Award winner in Nebraska history, and led the team to the Orange Bowl after an undefeated regular season.
Alberts has received many athletic awards, including an induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. But the award that meant the most to Alberts was earning Today’s TopSix award, the NCAA’s highest academic honor.
“I was honored to receive athletic recognition, but academic awards were very meaningful to me,” Alberts said.
Alberts was the fifth pick overall in the 1994 NFL draft, which led him to play two seasons for the Indianapolis Colts. His time as a Colt included being a part of the AFC Championship team in 1996-7, serving as one of his fondest memories of his NFL career.
Although staying healthy was an issue, there were several reasons behind his decision to retire from the NFL in 1997.
“Being a professional football player was never my dream,” he said. “Football was never my life.”
After retiring, Alberts received a call about becoming a college and professional football analyst.
His wife, Angela, encouraged him to run with it. Alberts spent several years as an analyst on networks, including CNN, ESPN and CBS, but later on found himself in another change of direction.
Playing in the NFL was never planned, nor was becoming a football analyst on national television. Alberts decided to pursue another career: college athletic administration.
Returning to college athletics and giving back was important to Alberts, and just as football, there was a spot to be filled. Concerns rose about his lack of administrative experience, but just as sportscasting, being thrown into something was nothing new for Alberts.
Alberts was announced as vice chancellor for athletic leadership and management and director of intercollegiate athletics in 2009.
“Things that make me tick are people with high integrity, unity and a purpose,” said Alberts, who quickly noticed those were all included in doing things as “the UNO way.”
A challenge hit Alberts’ desk in 2011. The decision to transition UNO athletics to Division 1 was anything but easy, he said, but the overall outcome would make it all worth it.
The transition meant dropping the wrestling and football teams, which made for hard feelings considering the success of both programs.
“The pro of moving to Division 1 was obviously being able to compete on the highest of stages for championships,” said Randy Reed, a former UNO men’s basketball player. “The con is that we never had anything to look forward to. But we went hard every night as if we did.”
Kyler Erickson, Reed’s teammate this past season, agreed. They said the transitioning years meant there was just not a whole lot to look forward to. “It takes a certain type of competitor to preserve through that,” Erickson said.
Four years later, the transition has ended and produced a successful first year as officially participating on a D-1 level.
The transitioning years didn’t affect the personal relationships between Reed, Erickson and Alberts.
“Trev doesn’t do things just because he is the AD. He sincerely cares about me. I can tell by the look in his eyes that he is genuine,” Reed said.