Lincoln, Neb. Nebraska fired coach Doc Sadler on Friday after the team he expected to be his best in his six years at the school posted the program’s lowest win total since 2003.
“I’ve decided to make a change in the basketball program,” athletic director Tom Osborne said. “I’ve had to do some difficult things over my lifetime. This may be as difficult as any of them. Doc is a good man, an honorable man, and I consider him a good friend. I thought it was wise at this point to make a change.”
In their first season in the Big Ten, the Cornhuskers finished 12-18 after losing 79-61 to Purdue in the first round of the league tournament on Thursday. They tied with Penn State for last place in the conference with a 4-14 record.
Sadler wept as he discussed his departure with reporters.
“You’re not looking at one of the smarter guys in this business, you’re looking a guy that tried,” he said. “Six years ago when I came here, I meant what I said. I came here to do a job, and this is where I want to be.
“That hadn’t changed until today,” he said before leaving the podium for about 20 seconds to collect himself. “I wanted to be the guy that won the first NCAA Tournament game. It didn’t happen. That’s the bottom line. We can all sit here and talk about this that whatever. It all comes down to winning. That’s what it should come down to.”
Sadler was 101-89 overall with three NIT appearances at Nebraska but just 34-64 in conference games. In the Huskers’ final five years in the Big 12, Sadler’s teams never finished higher than seventh.
Osborne said he and the coaching staff thought the Huskers would be a better team this year.
“I gambled, and Doc gambled that this would be a good year,” Osborne said. “Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out that way.”
Sadler last spring signed a contract extension through 2015-16 and his salary was $900,000 a year. His contract calls for him to be paid as much as $66,667 a month until he finds another job — up to a total of $3.4 million.