Neumann resigns as wrestling coach

Neumann

Shockwaves reverberated through the Nebraska wrestling program Tuesday as 15-year Coach Tim Neumann submitted his resignation over unspecified violations.NU Athletic Director Bill Byrne issued a 102-word press release Tuesday afternoon saying Neumann had resigned "in accordance with University personnel regulations." Because of UNL personnel policy, Byrne said he couldn't elaborate and has not returned phone calls made to his home. Neumann's direct superior, Nebraska Compliance Director Bob Burton, declined comment, referring all questions to Byrne.Neumann, who had been suspended with pay since April 6, was reached at his home Tuesday night and did not reveal any specifics about his resignation or the violations other than "it wasn't anything bad. But it was bad enough that." as his voice trailed off.Neumann said the wrestling program was not looking at any more danger, and Nebraska was "on solid ground."I loved my job at Nebraska," Neumann said, "and I wish that I still had it."Neumann said he had met with Assistant Coaches Mark Cody and Jason Kelber before release of his resignation and after he had talked with Byrne. Neumann had not met with the team as of late Tuesday night."And that's what really sucks," Neumann said.The Huskers did hold a meeting Tuesday night at Cody's residence, which Neumann did not attend. Cody said he led the "bittersweet" gathering, not discussing the resignation, but focusing on the future by staying in shape and doing in-class work. That future also includes a search for a new coach that will begin "immediately," Byrne said. While Neumann said he won't have any direct influence in the selection process, the program already has two great candidates inside it."Bill Byrne is going to find the best person around. And he's got two great coaches there already," Neumann said, referring to Cody and Kelber. "So I hope that he uses that."Cody said he's "definitely interested" in the position and that "it's something I am going to go after."Nebraska captain Brad Vering said the team will push for Cody to succeed Neumann."He's the guy I want in there," said Vering, a national champion at 197 pounds this season. "If they bring in somebody else, it could kind of screw up the chemistry of the team, and we've got a good thing going."NU loses only three starters off a team that finished eighth at the NCAA Championships this season, with two wrestlers at 165 - Tony Denke and Josh Henson - transferring for reasons unrelated to Neumann's resignation. Denke said he was looking at Northern Iowa, while Henson is going to Pennsylvania. Neither wrestler was aware of Neumann's situation. The same could be said of most of the Husker team, none of whom knew about Neumann's resignation before it was announced to the media at 5:21 p.m. Many expressed shock at the developments."Damn, man," Ati Conner said. "I mean, what do you say? I can't believe it happened. That man is the main reason I came here."Said Husker Charles McTorry, who was reached at Snyder's home: "He's a good coach and a good man. That's all there is to it."As for Vering: "He was a great coach who cared about his wrestlers, on the mat, off the mat. He is a great family man."Very few of the wrestlers had spoken to the coach in more than a week, some not since Nebraska's end-of-the-year banquet April 8. NU captain Brian Snyder said he had spoken to Neumann on Monday on the phone, but the coach's job status wasn't among the topics."I can talk to Coach on a personal level," Snyder said. "We're friends in that way, so we can talk about things outside wrestling."As a captain, along with Vering, Snyder said both knew slightly more about the situation than their teammates. But the junior knew no specifics.Bob Houser, president of the Husker wrestling booster club and longtime Neumann friend, said Neumann's resignation was in no way connected to the booster club. Houser said he had spoken with Neumann early Tuesday but didn't know the severity of the proceedings until he was informed Neumann had resigned."I'm sorry to see that it came to this. Tim and I are good friends. We will remain good friends," Houser said."We had a nice visit on Tuesday. We never discussed the possibility (of a resignation). I am overwhelmed by all of this."In his 15 seasons, Neumann had established an impressive resume as Cornhusker Coach. A native of Peshtigo, Wis., Neumann wrestled at NU during the 1979-80 season before transferring to Northern Michigan. He joined the Husker staff in 1983 as an assistant under Bob Fehrs.Neumann took over the program in 1985 as the interim coach, then was made official coach one year later. During his tenure, Neumann coached four national champions: Kelber, 126-pounder Tony Purler in 1993, heavyweight Tolly Thompson in 1995 and Vering this season.Neumann, 42, was Nebraska's all-time winningest wrestling coach with his 199 wins and was a three-time Big Eight Coach of the Year. In 1990, Neumann was named the National Coach of the Year after guiding NU to a 21-2-1 record and a fifth place national finish. Senior editor Samuel McKewon contributed to this report.