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Osborne retiring as he's lived: modestly

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Posted: Sunday, October 7, 2012 12:01 pm | Updated: 3:09 pm, Sun Dec 30, 2012.

LINCOLN -- Tom Osborne will depart Husker athletics without a golden parachute.

In fact, Osborne wriggled out of a pair of golden handcuffs with his decision to step down as University of Nebraska-Lincoln athletic director.

He will forfeit at least $100,000 in deferred income that Chancellor Harvey Perlman offered to induce the Nebraska football legend to stay at least until 2014.

"When I'm done here in July, there's no golden parachute, there's no deferred compensation, there's nothing -- that's the end," Osborne said. "That's the way it is. I haven't asked for any more."

That isn't to say Osborne will be forced to pinch pennies as he heads into retirement.

He is, after all, someone who usually needed more than 80 pages to list his stock holdings and transactions on annual disclosure forms required during his six years in the U.S. House, 2001 through 2006. During Osborne's last year in Congress, a Washington watchdog group pegged his net worth somewhere between $3.4 million and $15.9 million.

Osborne steps down as athletic director at the end of the year, but he will continue as an adviser through July with limited duties, such as fundraising and monitoring ongoing construction projects.

Here's what Osborne will receive in his retirement, according to a letter of agreement executed last week with Perlman:

" The permanent title of athletic director emeritus as of Jan. 1.

" From Jan. 1 through July 30, he'll get half of his $277,969 annual salary and benefits, including the use of one car by him and a second car by his wife. The continuing pay reflects that Osborne will continue in limited duties.

" For the rest of his life, a sixth-floor skybox in Memorial Stadium, free of charge. It's the same skybox that was designated for his family's use before Osborne was elected to Congress in 2000.

He also will be allowed to purchase a pair of seats to both

the Devaney Center and the new Pinnacle Bank Arena at face value, without the donation required of most purchasers.

Perlman said he tried to keep Osborne on the job at least through 2014 by offering him $50,000 per year in deferred compensation, paid through the NU Foundation, and a maximum of $300,000 if he stayed even longer.

Perlman recalled that Osborne had one condition when he came back to UNL after a 10-year absence in 2007: He did not think it was right for an athletic director to have a higher salary than the chancellor.

Perlman was paid $266,136 at the time. Osborne came on board at $250,000.

"If he'd been motivated by money, we'd be paying $1 million for an athletic director," said Perlman, noting that several top athletic directors in the country now are paid $1 million or more.

Osborne's newly named successor, Shawn Eichorst, will be paid $973,000 annually.

Perlman and Osborne both have gotten substantial pay raises since 2007.

Perlman now is paid $341,053 and Osborne receives a total of about $328,000, when including a $50,000 annual sports marketing payment for his radio talk show. Perlman's deferred compensation offer would have added to that amount.

But Osborne canceled that agreement by retiring. He also expects the radio program and its compensation to end after Jan. 1.

"At no time did I come here because of the money," he said. "I came here to try to do a job."

For his five years as athletic director, Osborne will receive additional benefits paid through UNL's defined contribution retirement plan.

Employees contribute 3.5 percent or 5.5 percent of their pay into the fund, while the university provides either 6.5Â percent or 8 percent. Benefits depend on how much is contributed and how successfully the fund has been invested.

Osborne's latest benefits appear fairly modest compared with retired Omaha Public Schools Superintendent John Mackiel, 62, who will receive a $1Â million lump-sum retirement benefit on top of a $200,000 annual pension.

A 40-year employee with 15 years as superintendent, Mackiel was paid $413,607 during the 2010-11 school year and made a similar amount in 2011-12.

Osborne, however, already has qualified for two retirement pensions. In 2001 he reported $26,000 annual income resulting from his 1997 retirement after 25 seasons as head football coach.

The other is his congressional pension, which Osborne says generates an additional $15,000 a year. He purchases health insurance offered to former members of Congress.

At 75, he's also drawing Social Security and is required to make withdrawals from his individual retirement accounts.

In 2000, Osborne received a $1.9Â million payout of deferred compensation for his final five years as coach, a time frame that included three national championships.

The money resulted from a five-year, $1 million deal, financed through donations and paid in increments of $200,000 a year, although Osborne declined the final $100,000 because he retired at the end of the 1997 season. The money was invested in technology stocks and had grown to $1.9 million before he declared it as income in January 2000.

He donated $1 million to his TeamMates youth mentoring program. Declines in tech stock values meant he ended up owing more in taxes than the remaining stocks were worth, Osborne reported in 2001.

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