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Nebraska Staff Spotlight: Butch Hug
September 24, 2010
By Wendell Barnhouse | Correspondent

As job titles go, "associate athletic director for events" is fairly self explanatory. At Nebraska, the man who holds that position has a simple explanation when asked what his job entails.

"Oh, gosh," Butch Hug said after a slight pause. "Basically, whatever's necessary."

Hug and his staff of five event managers are responsible for the school's facilities and for anything that goes on in and around those facilities during an event. There are between 200 and 225 events at those facilities each year so the work load is constant and demanding.

And Hug handles everything with the calm of someone waiting for a traffic light to change.

The big events at Nebraska are home football games. Saturday the Huskers play host to South Dakota State and in addition to the 307th consecutive sellout, it's homecoming. The planning for each football game begins on Thursday when Hug meets with the various agencies involved: concessions, security, parking, ushers, emergency personnel, media relations.

"We review what their roles are, we go over the timing for everything," Hug said. "This week, there's a public service announcement being filmed (on Thursday) and we've got to make sure all the homecoming details are taken care of - the winning floats are displayed outside the stadium. At halftime we've got the king and queen on the field."

Game day requires to-the-minute timing - when the teams take the field for warm ups, when the band is on the field, the national anthem. Hug again is the man who stays on top of the time.

In addition to Saturday's football game, Nebraska's softball team is playing an exhibition game Friday, the soccer team has matches Friday and Sunday plus there's an alumni swim meet Saturday. Just a typical busy weekend on a college campus.

"Everybody's got to be aware of what's going on at all the facilities," said Hug, who has about 42 people who work in his department. "Everybody's got their area of responsibility. Our event staff is in-house and work for us year-round. We've got about 800 volunteers who work our events. Some of them have been working for us 40 to 50 years."

Rarely are there any figurative fires that Hug and his staff have to put out. He follows the Boy Scout's motto: be prepared. For instance, if a football game is played in snowy/icy conditions, the ushers know where to get sand they can spread on the stadium steps to reduce danger to the fans.

"The plan is in place for something like that and we just have to implement if needed," Hug said.

A native of Auburn, Neb. - which is located in the southeast corner of the state 65 miles from Lincoln - Hug has been doing his job for about 29 years. Memorial Stadium has been expanded, new facilities have been built and Hug has been the constant. His experience, along with his staff, allows him to make sure that everything runs smoothly when an on-campus event takes place.

"We really don't have an off-season," said Hug, noting that Haymarket Park, the Huskers' baseball stadium, is open to an Independent League baseball team in the summer. "We hosted the national Special Olympics last summer. Then it was August and we were getting ready for the fall sports."

Nebraska's facilities also are used by the state's high school teams for playoff events in football, basketball and swimming. So when there's an event on campus, Hug and his staff are working. And then there's always maintenance at the facilities - a new basketball court, etc.

Hug is the mailman of the Nebraska athletic department. Neither snow nor rain … nor even cancer can keep him from his appointed duties. He was diagnosed with the disease last March but after radiation and chemotherapy the cancer is under control.

"Things seem to be going well," Hug said. "I had a lot of treatment over the summer. I kept working but I was more of a consultant because my staff can handle things. We have so many events, we really don't have to be retrained in anything. We just know how to do it and we do it every year."
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