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Nebraska maintains Life Skills programs for student athletes

(c) 1995 Copyright The News and Observer Publishing Co.
(c) 1995 Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. (Sep 13, 1995 - 18:01 EDT) -- Nearly three weeks before Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips allegedly assaulted his former girlfriend, the entire Cornhuskers team was required to attend a workshop on managing anger and conflict.

The workshop was one of four that have been held for the team this year. The others were about sexual responsibility, money management and drug and alcohol education.

Every Nebraska sports team is required to hold at least five workshops throughout the year as part of a Life Skills program, which was created in 1988. The workshops relate to academics, athletics, careers, community service and personal development.

Coach Tom Osborne regularly offers additional workshops.

"It's very difficult dealing with all the different issues that the student athletes are confronted with, and we feel that it's our obligation to help educate them on all of these potential distractions and potential problems that they more than likely are going to be confronted with," Keith Zimmer, director of the program, said.

Phillips pleaded innocent Tuesday to charges that he hit his former girlfriend early Sunday at the apartment of transfer quarterback Scott Frost. Receiver Riley Washington pleaded innocent Wednesday to an attempted murder charge in a shooting near a Lincoln convenience store. On Saturday, backup tailback Damon Benning was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a former girlfriend; no formal charges have been filed.

Phillips has been suspended from the team indefinitely.

"Everyone's disappointed about what has happened, but I think the athletic department truly feels like we've done everything we can to make athletes aware of these issues and provide them with support and help," Zimmer said.

Jane Close Conoley, a member of the Chancellor's Commission on the Status of Women at the university, disagreed.

"Apparently more needs to be done," she said. "I think there's been a pattern over the last year, year and a half, of things like this happening."

While Osborne says he will not tolerate violence against women, it is hard "to imagine that a six-week training or six-month training ... can combat a society that glorifies violence," Conoley said.