Former Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne released a statement on Wednesday in support of coach Bo Pelini, saying he became aware of the now infamous Pelini recording about a year after it was made in October 2011.
On the recording, Pelini, in a profanity laced rant, criticizes Nebraska fans for their booing and early departures as the Huskers came from behind to beat Ohio State.
“While the comments were certainly not good,” Osborne said, “I realized that Bo had gone through an emotional week and an emotional game and was in a setting where he thought his comments were entirely private. I visited with Bo on a weekly basis and did not find that his attitude toward the fans or the press as expressed by those comments were at all in keeping with what I knew his true attitude to be. He understands that the most important asset the athletic department has is the amazing fan support that we enjoy.”
Osborne, who retired this year and coached the Huskers from 1973 to 1997, did not say who provided him the audio in 2012. Osborne did not inform his successor, Shawn Eichorst, or Chancellor Harvey Perlman of the recording until Monday after it went public on Deadspin. Osborne said he visited with Pelini last year about the comments and expressed concern. Pelini did not hear the recording at the time, Osborne said.
He also praised Pelini’s work as coach over five-plus seasons.
“Bo’s academic record with the football team has been the best in my recollection,” Osborne said in the statement. “The behavior of his players has been excellent for the most part; he has won three divisional championships and had one of the best win-loss records in college football for the past five years. I recognize that there have occasionally been controversies, but I have seen a willingness to change, reflect and improve in Bo over the years. I am very hopeful that the players, coaches and fans will pull together as unity of purpose has been one of our major assets over the last 50 years.”