In the span of three days at the University of Nebraska, a wide receiver has been ordered to stand trial for attempted second-degree murder, a star running back has been dismissed from the team after his arrest for allegedly assaulting an ex-girlfriend and a key reserve running back has been arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor assault--also involving alleged physical abuse of an ex-girlfriend.
No wonder the No. 2-ranked Cornhuskers voted Monday to boycott all media interview requests "in an effort," read the statement, "to focus their energies on [Saturday's] Arizona State game."
During a news conference, Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne suggested that the dismissal of Lawrence Phillips, the former Baldwin Park High star who is considered one of the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy, might not be permanent.
"I just don't know right now," Osborne said. "We've got to work through a few things and we'll see. You never say never, but he would certainly have to get some things accomplished before he would [be allowed to rejoin the team].
"And as I've said, I'm certainly going to continue to support him every way that I can in terms of emotionally and academically. So it isn't like we've cut the cord and said, 'We don't ever want to see you again, Lawrence.' That's not true at all. We'll see how things go."
Osborne declined to explain his reasons for throwing Phillips off the team instead of suspending him.
"I'm comfortable with what I did," Osborne said. "It was very painful and I care very much about Lawrence, but it was something that needed to be done at the time and we did it."
Phillips, who has been unavailable for comment, will be arraigned today in Lincoln. His attorney, Hal Anderson, said the junior I-back will plead innocent.
Meanwhile, Osborne chose not to suspend second-string running back Damon Benning, despite his arrest early Saturday morning. Benning released a statement Monday alleging that the dispute and all physical contact between him and his ex-girlfriend was initiated by the woman.
As for Riley Washington, the Cornhusker reserve wide receiver will stand trial on a charge of attempted second-degree murder, the result of his alleged involvement in an Aug. 2 shooting at a Lincoln convenience store.