"I have had to do some difficult things over my lifetime, but this could be one of the most difficult," said Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne. "I thought it was wise to make a change. Doc has represented the program well...unfortunately for whatever reason it didn't work out."
Entering his sixth season, Sadler was optimistic at the beginning of the year. Fresh off a 19 win season with four returning starters, a SEC starting point guard transfer, and a solid recruiting class, the buzz was Nebraska had a chance to return to the NCAA tournament – a place they have not been since 1998.
Nebraska was doomed though by a new conference schedule and a rash of injuries throughout the season.
Starting center Brian Jorge Diaz missed a total of 14 games, including the Huskers last nine. Third leading score Dylan Talley took half of the season to get healthy from a thigh injury, an injury that cost him five games total.
Brazil native Andre Almedia, who was expected to provide depth inside, never recovered from knee surgery in April. The rehab was projected to be only six to eight weeks total for the 6-foot-11 senior - instead he redshirted.
"It's my responsibility to change the perception of Nebraska basketball. My goal is to make us a consistent player in the NCAA tournament," Sadler told Big Red Report at the beginning of the season. "Bottom line is, we have to make a deep run into the NCAA tournament. Then it will all change. Until we do that, people won't know who we are."
Sadler won't be given that chance after going 101-89 since 2006-07. During those six seasons, Nebraska made the NIT three times, but only advanced the second round of the tournament once.
"Having been a coach, I realize more than most how difficult coaching can be," said Osborne. "Since I am ultimately responsible for the athletic department, there is no need to look further than me to assign blame for a disappointing season. I wish for everyone's sake, we weren't making this announcement today."
When Sadler was hired by former NU athletic director Steve Pederson, the University felt they were getting one of the best recruiters in the country. At that the time, Sadler had coached 19 future NBA players.
"This is a great day for everyone who loves Nebraska basketball," Pederson said at Sadler's introductory press conference.. "We have a man who will bring character, determination, toughness and a winning attitude to the Husker basketball program. Not only is he an excellent coach and recruiter, but he is the kind of family man that you want leading your program. I can't wait for Nebraska fans to get to know Coach Sadler."
The next head coach should have all the resources he needs to turn around a struggling program. In October, Nebraska opened a $18.7 million practice facility for men's and women's basketball. It's often been called the best in the nation. The Huskers also have their sights set on a new 16,000-seat arena for the 2013-14 season, a joint effort between NU and the city of Lincoln.
Sadler will leave Nebraska as the only coach to ever win at least 17 games in his first three seasons. All three years Nebraska was picked to finish ninth or lower in their conference.
Before Nebraska, Sadler spent two seasons as the head coach at UTEP. He guided the Miners to a 48-17 record, making the NCAA Tournament in his first year.
Sadler was reportedly a coach of interest by teams like Oklahoma, Auburn, and Texas Tech the past few seasons, but wanted to stay in Nebraska after Osborne showed him a sign of support by giving the head coach a two-year extension last season.
Sadler through the years: