Continued from page 1

The 79-45 loss to Ohio State in January was the most lopsided at home on record. In a 62-34 loss at Michigan State, the Huskers scored their fewest points in a game since 1948.

The Huskers averaged a league-low 57 points in Big Ten games and the defense, the strength of Sadler’s previous teams, unraveled. Nebraska was last in field-goal defense and eighth in 3-point defense.

“We tried to make whatever commitment we could by working hard on upgrading facilities. We gave Doc the contract extension a year ago to help him in recruiting,” Osborne said. “We also made some adjustments in his assistants salaries a couple years ago which we thought would make him more competitive. A strength coach was something we added a year ago, some things in private planes and so on.”

Sadler, 51, was thought to be a rising star when former Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson hired him away from UTEP in August 2006, after Barry Collier resigned to become athletic director at Butler. Collier had been under fire after going 89-91 and never having a winning Big 12 record in six seasons at Nebraska.

Sadler tied a school record with 37 wins in his first two seasons. But with lackluster facilities and a largely apathetic fan base, Sadler proved to be no different than his predecessors who failed to sustain success.

The Huskers haven’t won a conference championship since sharing the Big Seven title in 1949-50, and they’re winless in six NCAA tournament appearances. They haven’t been to the national tournament since 1998 and haven’t produced an NBA draft pick since 1999.

Nebraska showed promise last season, stringing together 11 straight wins for the longest streak since 1991. A win over third-ranked Texas improved the Huskers to 18-8 and 6-6 in the Big 12 and kept them in the NCAA tournament conversation into late February.

But their hopes were dashed after they lost four of their next five games, and then they were blown out at Wichita State in their NIT opener.

Osborne said he had no candidates in mind to fill the position, which opened just a few hours after Bruce Weber was fired at Illinois.

“The thing we’d like to do, certainly, is number one have someone with integrity, that’s something that’s going to be paramount, someone that is concerned about academics,” Osborne said. “You’re looking for a special person, somebody who can do all those things and still win a fair amount of basketball games. Believe me, winning isn’t everything. You look at the process, you look at recruiting, you look at how things are going. At some point if you do enough things right, the winning takes care of itself.”

Osborne acknowledged that Nebraska is still widely viewed as a football-first school and not a potential basketball power.

“That doesn’t mean that it can’t be,” he said. “I don’t subscribe to the theory that this is a football school and this is a basketball school and never the two will meet.”