Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne at the news conference announcing… (Nati Harnik / Associated…)
Legendary former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne, who has served as the school's athletic director for the last five years, announced Wednesday that he would step down Jan. 1.
"At some point, whether you're able to function or not, just the perception that you're getting old can get in the way," Osborne, 75, said. "I don't want to be one of those guys everybody is walking around wringing their hands trying to figure out what are we going to do with him? That happens sometimes."
Osborne, who had double-bypass heart surgery in 1985, said he has no health issues that led to his decision.
"I'm probably healthier today than when I was a member of Congress. That takes a big toll on you," he said.
Osborne was a member of the House of Representatives from 2000 to 2006 and lost to incumbent Dave Heineman in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary.
Associate athletic director Jamie Williams, who played tight end for Osborne in the early 1980s, said, "They don't make a lot of Tom Osbornes. There aren't a lot of living legends left that you can rub elbows with every day. For him to say he's going off to pasture, I told him we have more dragons to slay. Sometimes fishing becomes more important."
Osborne said he told chancellor Harvey Perlman in August that he planned to retire after the football season. Perlman said a search firm had been hired to identify candidates to succeed Osborne, and that he has already interviewed some of them.
"The decision will be his," Osborne said, referring to Perlman. "I'll support him any way I can."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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