University of Nebraska administrative leaders issued a statement in support of Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini on Wednesday, ending speculation that he would face disciplinary action over leaked audio from 2011 in which he criticized the program's fans.
"We are prepared to put this matter to rest," chancellor Harvey Perlman and athletic director Shawn Eichorst said in the statement. "Our football student-athletes, coaches and staff deserve all of our support, and we know the Nebraska faithful will be there for them."
The controversy erupted Monday after Deadspin.com released audio of Pelini's expletive-laced rant about Huskers fans after a 2011 win against Ohio State.
Former Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne released a statement on Wednesday in support of Pelini.
Osborne said he became aware of Pelini's comments in 2012, about a year after they occurred.
"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 1973-97, did not say who provided him the audio in 2012. Osborne did not inform his successor, Eichorst, or 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."
Perlman and Eichorst said they believed Pelini understood the "seriousness and inappropriateness" of the comments and that he was sincere in his apologies Monday and Tuesday.
The comments, the administrators said, "are unfortunate and deeply concerning to us, as they would be to anyone who loves this university."
"Our coaches, staff and student-athletes must be held to a high standard," the statement said, "and Coach Pelini's remarks were unfair to the legions of Nebraska fans and not what we expect from a representative of this university."
Perlman and Eichorst also said they believed Pelini's demeanor had "significantly improved" since 2011.
Additionally, Pelini said Wednesday in an interview on SiriusXM's College Sports Nation that he had "an idea" about the identity of the person who leaked the audio.
"I think we're a lot closer to that," he said, "if it hasn't been completely determined already."
According to Pelini, an investigation has been conducted into the situation.
"You can't put anything to rest until everybody's on the same page, all the investigation's been done, all the due diligence has been done," Pelini said in the interview. "That involves more than just me. It involves, you know, there was a lot to this. And so, at the end of the day, it doesn't make any sense to rush to judgment and rush to make statements and that type of thing until everybody can do their job. That's what's being done in this case."
Pelini also reiterated that he remained confident in his future at Nebraska.
"I have confidence in the support I get, the people that are around me," he said. "And I've said that. This is where I want to be."