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Phillips Sentenced to Probation for Assault

December 5, 1995 GMT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips was sentenced to one year of probation Tuesday, 11 weeks after he beat a former girlfriend and was suspended from the team. He will be available for the Fiesta Bowl.

Phillips also was ordered by Lancaster County Judge Jack Lindner to attend a domestic violence prevention class and pay $359 in restitution.

He still is barred from contact with Nebraska basketball player Kate McEwen, whom he attacked Sept. 10.

Phillips, accompanied by attorney Hal Anderson, declined to comment after the sentencing and later at the school’s athletic offices.

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``I don’t know what’s fair and what’s not fair,″ coach Tom Osborne said of the sentence. ``I know that he’ll comply and I feel very good about what Lawrence has done to this point. He’s done what he’s been asked to do ... whatever the court says, that’s what he’ll do.″

Police said Phillips broke into the apartment of transfer quarterback Scott Frost and attacked McEwen with his hands. Frost and another man managed to get Phillips away from McEwen after she had been dragged down a flight of stairs.

McEwen was treated at a hospital and released. McEwen, who has returned to school, requested and received 24-hour protection paid for by the university. School police could not confirm Tuesday whether the protection was continuing.

The incident destroyed the Heisman Trophy hopes of Phillips, who ran for 359 yards and seven touchdowns in Nebraska’s first two games. Osborne dismissed Phillips from the team the day of the assault, but later called it an indefinite suspension. Phillips rejoined the team Oct. 24.

Osborne has been criticized for not dismissing Phillips from the No. 1 Cornhuskers, who play No. 2 Florida for the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2 in Tempe, Ariz.

Osborne has said Phillips is better off playing football because of its structure and discipline. Phillips, who pleaded no contest and was found guilty of misdemeanor assault and trespassing, attends anger-control counseling and sees a psychologist two to three times per week.

Of the restitution, $248 will go to McEwen for medical expenses. The remaining $111 will pay for damage caused to the apartment building where the assault happened.

Phillips’ probation will expire Nov. 29, 1996. He could face 30 days in jail, but the judge and Anderson said that would be waived if probation is completed successfully.

Osborne said Phillips has been punished enough. He said Phillips could have been a top five pick in the upcoming professional draft, but lost out on a big signing bonus after missing six games.

``Some people feel like we didn’t do anything to him,″ Osborne said. ``But I imagine by suspending him I took several million dollars away from Lawrence Phillips ... he’s paid a price.″

Phillips has declined to say if he will return for his senior season.