Most college basketball fans haven’t been paying attention to what’s happening in Lincoln. And honestly, unless they know a Cornhusker personally, why would they? The Nebraska program has been mostly abysmal since its inception. In its 118-year history, the basketball team has only made the NCAA Tournament five times and has yet to get past the first round. It’s won only 20 games once in the last decade and hasn’t been ranked since 1994 when part of something completely foreign called the Big 8. Despite all that, fans may want to start paying attention to the team in the state not named Creighton; otherwise they may miss the story arc of a program rising from the ashes. How’s that? Well, largely because the boosters and athletic department in recent years have decided to finally start investing in basketball.
It started four years ago with the decision to build an $18.7 million, 84,000 square feet practice facility. Next, the administration green-lit the construction of a brand new $179 million, 15,000 seat arena which will open this year. Nebraska fans have responded in kind by selling out the Cornhuskers’ first season in the shiny new building. And last year, the program hired a young and well-respected head coach in Tim Miles from Colorado State. They were able to lure him to Lincoln by offering a competitive Big Ten salary – he is set to make $1.5 million this year. But perhaps more importantly, they promised Miles he would have the resources to pay his assistant coaches competitive salaries as well. True to their word, the university has stepped up. Currently, all three assistant coaches make $200,000 or more, which, in terms of college basketball, is on the high end for an assistant coach.