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Nearly 60,000 Spring Game tickets sold on first day of availability

The Nebraska Red-White Spring Game is a hot ticket.

Nebraska announced on Twitter that it sold 57,342 tickets between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the first day of ticket sales for the April 21 football scrimmage.

That's despite only season-ticket holders being eligible to purchase tickets. The first chance for the general public to purchase tickets is 10 a.m. Wednesday, and the university said it will ensure that at least 10,000 are held in reserve. 

Demand is high to see Scott Frost's first spring game as the Husker head coach, with NU more than doubling its normal first-day ticket sales numbers. According to the school website, the program typically sells more than 20,000 tickets on the first day of availability. 

Spring Game attendance is typically strong; NU has drawn at least 54,000 fans to Memorial Stadium each year since 2004. 

Nebraska is expected to challenge the Spring Game attendance record of 80,149, set in 2008, Bo Pelini's first year.

The Spring Game will kick off at 11 a.m., and, as athletic director Bill Moos confirmed to the Journal Star last week, is expected to be televised live by the Big Ten Network. 

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Lincoln police officer gets $75K on 'Ellen' show to finish her college degree

A whirlwind of excitement has begun to settle in for Lincoln Police Officer Chassidy Jackson-Goodwin, who was given $75,000 on "The Ellen Degeneres Show" to fulfill her dream of finishing her college education.

"It has just been, like, crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy," said Jackson-Goodwin, who was surprised during taping of Monday's episode.

The "Ellen" superfan's 19-year-old daughter, Jaida Jackson, wrote to the popular talk show before Christmas.

She explained how her mother, who raised her as a single parent, had taken out $17,000 in loans to help her daughter attend the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and how Jackson-Goodwin had never completed the bachelor's degree she sought in criminal justice.

She had earned an associate degree in 1998, and took Jaida — born six days earlier — to her graduation ceremony at Metro Community College.

From there, she worked at Gallup for a short time, then at the Lancaster County jail before joining the Lincoln Police Department in December 2001.

Two weeks ago, the patrol officer and self-proclaimed busybody was in poor spirits: She was recovering from surgery and had learned that a lottery ticket she bought wasn't a winner.

When "Ellen" came on that afternoon, she set her sights on scheduling a mother-daughter trip to watch the upbeat show in person.

Then a phone call changed everything. 

A staffer for the show told her it had received a letter about her and wanted to know if she and her daughter were interested in free tickets.

She couldn't believe the coincidence.

The pair jumped at the opportunity, leaving last Monday and returning Wednesday.

In Los Angeles, they couldn't contain their excitement, snapping cellphone photos of almost anything they could find with the city's name. Even then, Jackson-Goodwin said, "We just thought we were going to the show."

In the studio, Ellen's audience danced like it always does — a commercial break nightclub.

Then comedic actress Melissa McCarthy started promoting her new movie, "Life of the Party" — a film about a former stay-at-home mom who goes to college with her daughter.

The Lincoln women turned to each other and said, "That is us."

Then came the next segment, when Degeneres called Jaida to the stage for a game of beer pong with McCarthy. The mother-daughter duo looked at each other and started screaming, then Jackson-Goodwin was asked to join because of Jaida's young age.

The cop of 16 years tossed ping-pong balls into red plastic cups attached to a vest worn by McCarthy, hoping to land $1,000 for each ball she sunk.

The crowd counted aloud the seven she landed.

"Jaida didn't even remember what happened," her mom said Tuesday.

Afterward, Degeneres revealed the real surprise.

"You’ve spent your life serving others and are beloved by your community,” she told Jackson-Goodwin. "Your dream is to go back to college, look at that, and get your bachelor’s degree, but you can’t afford to go back.

“What a coincidence you’d be here on this day.”

The internet image-publishing service Shutterfly, McCarthy's movie and McCarthy herself each gave Jackson-Goodwin $25,000 to help her go back to college.

McCarthy and Degeneres were genuine on- and off-camera, Jackson-Goodwin said.

"You love her (Ellen) on TV," she said. "When you're there, you're, like, I love her even more.'"

Journal Star file photo  

More than 72,000 fans showed up under cloudy skies, persistent wind yet comfortable temperatures for the Nebraska Red-White Spring Game in 2016.

Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel 

C.J. Smith was the first prep standout to commit to Scott Frost.

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UNL acknowledges concerns about white supremacist student

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln said Tuesday it is aware of the activities of a junior student claiming to be “the most active white nationalist in the Nebraska area,” adding it was taking the matter “very seriously.”

But students say university leaders have largely ignored their concerns about Daniel J. Kleve, as well as their calls to have him removed from campus.

Video circulated by Anti-Fascist Action Nebraska on Monday summarized 23-year-old Kleve's documented activities since August, when he took part in a white supremacist event in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

“I’m a regular person, just going to school,” Kleve says in the video, captured from a Google Hangout among several white supremacists. “I am the most active white nationalist in the Nebraska area.”

Kleve goes on to say that while he may not look like other white nationalists because of the way he presents himself, that “doesn’t mean that I don’t love violence.”

“You don’t have to look like a violent person to be violent,” he said.

The racist rhetoric cast an angry and sad pall over the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center on Monday evening, when a group of about 30 students watched the video together, said Sydnii Washington, a sophomore from Omaha.

Some students voiced fear they could be targeted; others said they weren’t surprised by Kleve’s white supremacist views, Washington said.

“People have classes with him, people have been frustrated, he’s open with his thoughts about people of color, or as he calls it, white genocide,” she said. “The teachers allow it and it makes students of color very uncomfortable.”

Students have raised concerns about Kleve’s views and actions to University police and campus administrators for months after the Norfolk native was seen standing alongside members of Vanguard America — designated a white supremacist group by the Anti-Defamation League — and in one photo, attacking a protester with a flashlight.

Those images should be enough for university leaders to act, said one student who asked not to be identified because they feared retaliation: “We believe that violates the code of conduct, which says violence is unacceptable in or out of school.”

The senior student from Omaha said several complaints have been filed with university leaders, but to no avail.

So Wednesday, members of UNL Against Hate will hold a 1:15 p.m. rally at the Nebraska Union Plaza to shed light on racial intolerance and anti-Semitism spread by Kleve through YouTube and other social-media outlets.

“The hope was the university would act before there had to be a large outcry,” said the senior student. “They didn’t, and the response for the student body indicated there needed to be student action.”

UNL officials acknowledged the demands to remove Kleve from campus in a statement Tuesday afternoon, adding “safety officials have been aware and are taking the matter very seriously.”

“Rest assured the safety of our students, faculty and staff is of utmost importance to us,” the statement read.

UNL Police Chief Owen Yardley said in an earlier statement “sometimes safety professionals have to be very discreet about what they can say regarding such matters,” reiterating the “matter is being taken seriously.”

Kleve has publicly identified himself as a white nationalist before the Lincoln City Council when he testified in opposition to a resolution celebrating diversity and taking a stand against hate and intolerance last September.

He also apparently participated in a series of “White Lives Matter” rallies in Tennessee last October, according to Anti-Fascist Action Nebraska, and was present when a group of white supremacists attacked a biracial couple.

Kleve’s videos and the calls to remove him from campus add another dimension to the free speech debate that cooled somewhat on Jan. 25 with the NU Board of Regents unanimously approving several policies outlining its “Commitment to Free Expression.”

While it acknowledged the calls to remove Kleve from campus, UNL’s statement does not outline any action by the university. Instead, UNL said it denounces bigotry, condemns violence and objects “to activities that strike fear among our students.”

“The campus is comprised of people of diverse backgrounds, with different life experiences,” UNL’s statement says. “We encourage civil and respectful discussion of ideas and opinions.”

David Moshman, a UNL emeritus professor who writes extensively about free speech and expression in academic settings, said hate speech is protected by the First Amendment no matter how objectionable or offensive it might be.

“There is no exception for hate speech in First Amendment law,” Moshman wrote in an email. “Fascists and white supremacists have a right to say what they believe, however hateful their ideas, and those who hate fascists or white supremacists have a right to say so.”

True threats, libel or harassment of specific individuals may make Kleve subject to disciplinary action or criminal charges, Moshman added, but he “may not be silenced, banned, or punished simply for expressing hateful ideas.”

Students such as the members of UNL Against Hate say while they respect the right to free speech, they are becoming increasingly concerned about their safety at UNL. Wednesday’s rally is not to try to silence Kleve, they said, but to show support for the people he's targeted.

Washington said many students of color have grown weary of fighting the same fight their parents and grandparents fought “to tell someone that you and your people have a right to live.”

“Talking to my parents, I’m really tired of it, I’m ready to transfer to UNO,” Washington said. “I think that’s the best move for me.”