Nebraska fires athletic director

Nebraska Athletic Director Steve Pederson was fired Monday, two days after the school's once-mighty football team was rocked with its worst home loss in nearly a half-century. Pederson, along with Coach Bill Callahan, has been heavily criticized after a series of one-sided losses. The most recent was a 45-14 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday with former Cornhuskers coach Tom Osborne and his 1997 national title team in attendance.

Callahan's job is apparently safe for now. Chancellor Harvey Perlman said the next athletic director would decide the fate of the football staff.


Over the past two weeks, the Huskers (4-3) have lost by a combined score of 86-20, dropping a 41-6 decision at Missouri two weeks ago.

"There is no joy in my heart for having to do this," Perlman said. He said it would cost at least $2.2 million to buy Pederson out of his contract.


At the end of the July, Pederson's contract was renewed for five years, but this season has been a nightmare for the most part. Even in victory -- a 41-40 nail-biter against Ball State -- the Huskers' defense was far from the force it used to be.

For the first time in their 118-year history, the Cornhuskers have allowed at least 40 points four times in a season.

The chancellor also said since July he's noticed a decline in morale and growing concern about keeping key personnel in the athletic department. Paul Meyers, a key fund-raiser, was among several people who departed.

Several people came forward with concerns about Pederson's management style and his connection with staff, donors and athletes, Perlman said.

"Every one of you thinks this is because of a football game that was played last Saturday," Pederson said. "It may well be that the vulnerability of the football program encouraged people to come forward when prior to that they had not."

Kentucky fined

The SEC fined Kentucky $50,000 for failing to prevent fans from rushing the field after the Wildcats' triple-overtime victory over top-ranked LSU. It was the third violation dating to last year for Kentucky, which was fined $5,000 for the celebration after a win last year against Georgia and $25,000 earlier this year after a victory over Louisville.