Threatening Column Led to Police Protection for Athletic Director


Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson was guarded by a state trooper during a home football game last month after investigators determined a credible threat had been made against him and his family.

The decision for the Nov. 12 game against Kansas State, first reported Saturday by the Omaha World-Herald, apparently stemmed from a Nov. 9 column written by 23-year-old Ben Schwartz that appeared in the North Platte Bulletin, a weekly newspaper published in Pederson’s hometown.

“Tell me it’s wrong to call up Steve Pederson’s house at three in the morning, breathe heavily into the phone and then whisper, ‘I’m going to kill your children,”‘ Schwartz wrote after Nebraska lost its third straight, 40-15 to Kansas.

Schwartz, who is now attending radio broadcasting school in Minnesota, said he received a call from state patrol investigators a few days after the column ran. The newspaper’s publisher, Frank Graham, also said he was contacted by investigators.

“I don’t think they thought I was a threat to Steve Pederson,” Schwartz said Saturday. “They thought someone would read my column and be inspired to hurt his kids.”

Schwartz, who called his column “completely inappropriate,” wrote a follow-up the next week apologizing for his comments.

While Schwartz said he’s sorry for his choice of words, he is not apologizing for disliking Pederson.

“I think he’s done a terrible job as athletic director,” Schwartz said.

Pederson could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday.

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