Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook's contract extension includes unique, horse-driven incentive


John Cook has been a staple in the women’s college volleyball world for more than two decades. 

He recently landed a contract extension that ties him to the Nebraska Cornhuskers for the foreseeable future. The deal includes a considerable salary bump, but it also comes with a unique incentive. Some of the funds in the contract will be dedicated to Cook’s goal of purchasing a horse.

While Cook can earn more based on the volleyball team’s achievements, there is also a $70,000 retention bonus that will help him buy a horse.

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Head coach John Cook of the Nebraska Cornhuskers enters the court prior to the Division I Womens Volleyball Championship against the Texas Longhorns at Amalie Arena on Dec. 17, 2023, in Tampa, Florida. (Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

“When (athletic director) Troy (Dannen) and I talked about my contract, I proposed that instead of an annual escalating salary that some coaches do, it would mean a great deal to me if the Nebraska athletic department would consider supporting me in purchasing a horse out in central Nebraska that I’ve had my eye on,” Cook said in a statement.

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Cook also said the horse, known as No. 415, was born and bred at the Pitzer Ranch in Ericson, Nebraska, and is a “once-in-a-lifetime performance horse.”

Coach John Cook

Head coach John Cook of the Nebraska Cornhuskers huddles with the team prior to the Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship against the Texas Longhorns on Dec. 17, 2023, in Tampa. (Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Cook said the retention bonus served as a creative workaround.

“Troy loved the idea and while they couldn’t specifically write that into the contract, the retention bonus will be used for No. 415. I am honored that Troy was supportive of my idea and it means a lot to me,” Cook said.

Nebraska coach John Cook

Nebraska head coach John Cook as the second set is about to start during the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship match against the Texas Longhorns on Dec. 17, 2023, in Tampa. (David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It seems like a small price to pay for one of the most successful coaches in women’s volleyball.

Cook was named Nebraska’s head volleyball coach in 2000. He has led the program to four NCAA championships and 13 conference titles. 

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Last August, a record-breaking number of fans attended “Volleyball Day” at Memorial Stadium – the Nebraska football team’s home stadium. 

The Cornhuskers only lost two games last season, but came up short in the national championship game against the Texas Longhorns. Nebraska opens the volleyball season on Aug. 30.

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