When former LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles came out of pseudo retirement to take over the Kansas Jayhawks, the entire college football world knew it would be an uphill battle. The Big 12’s bottom-dwellers have been rather pitiful for the last decade and the cupboard of talent was far from full. However, there were some pieces in place to start rebuilding.
One of those players was definitely running back Pooka Williams. In his first season with the Jayhawks under head coach David Beatty, Williams ran his way to 1,125 yards, seven touchdowns, Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-Big 12 honors in 11 games. The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder was one of the very few bright spots on a struggling team, but he was a player Miles could build an offense around.
All of that took a bad turn for the worse when Williams, a New Orleans, Louisiana native, was arrested and charged with domestic battery back in December and suspended indefinitely from the team.
Then on Monday, despite several cases of harsh punishment involving domestic violence, Williams has been allowed to rejoin the football program and will only have to serve a one-game suspension — the Jayhawks’ season opener against Indiana State — as a result of a diversion agreement with the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office in the case, according to the Kansas City Star.
According to KUSports.com, in addition to the suspension, Kansas Athletics will require Williams “to be subject to probation until he graduations, attend monthly meetings with a university conduct officer, complete 40 hours of community service, and complete a sexual violence accountability course.”
Still, this is a pretty easy punishment by comparison to most cases involving domestic violence, but University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long felt like this was the proper one.
“My behavior was unacceptable, and I’m very sorry to those who were impacted by my poor choices. I am disappointed in myself, not just as a man, but as a student-athlete looked up to by younger kids. My suspension from football has been hard, but I have learned from it. I’m thankful I can continue with my education at KU. Looking ahead, the most important thing to me is to regain the trust and respect of my classmates, teammates, and fans. I am humbled to return to football and to prepare for the season.”
— Kansas RB Pooka Williams, via KUSports.com
Kansas football can now take a deep breath. The seven-month suspension from team-related activities is now over. The star from last season is clear to return.
Just don’t be surprised if some are appalled by the decision to let it happen.