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Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Three players lose father in crash

By Mark Schlabach
ESPN.com

The plane crash that killed former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska Monday night also claimed the life of the father of football players at three universities.

William "Bill" Phillips, who was Stevens' legislative director and chief of staff from 1981 to 1986, also was killed in the plane crash near Dillingham, in a remote part of Alaska.

Phillips, from Germantown, Md., was traveling on a fishing trip with Stevens when the plane slammed into a mountain with such force that it left a 300-foot gash on the slope.

Phillips' 13-year-old son, William "Willy" Phillips, was seriously injured in the crash and was among four survivors. Five passengers were killed.

Three of Phillips' sons play football at NCAA FBS schools. Andrew Phillips is a fifth-year senior and starting guard at Stanford, where he was named second-team All-Pac-10 last season.

Colter Phillips is a sophomore tight end at Virginia, where he had five catches for 34 yards in six starts in 2009.

Paul Phillips is a freshman tight end at Indiana.

"A member of our football family, Colter Phillips, lost his father William 'Bill' Sr., Monday in a plane crash that claimed several lives," Virginia coach Mike London said in a statement released by the school Wednesday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Phillips family and all the other families affected by this tragedy. Colter is currently with his family and we are committed to supporting him in any way possible."

Indiana coach Bill Lynch informed his team of the crash after Tuesday's practice.

"The thoughts and prayers of the entire Indiana University community are with Paul, his family and everyone touched by this tragedy," Lynch said in a statement. "Please be respectful of the family as they deal with this private matter."

Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said in a statement: "We are struck with deep sadness by the tragic and sudden loss of Bill Phillips ... A man could hardly live a more full life than Bill, whose kindness and friendship touched us all deeply. His legacy lives on through his four sons, four incredible young men he raised."

Dan Paro, who coached each of Phillips' older sons at Georgetown Prep School in North Bethesda, Md., referred all questions to the school's administrative office, which declined comment.

William Phillips, an attorney and lobbyist at Utrecht and Phillips, a Washington, D.C.-based firm, played football at the University of Evansville during the early 1970s.

Mark Schlabach covers college football and basketball for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.