Pooka Williams became an instant fan favorite when he made his college debut against Central Michigan last September. The true freshman running back from Louisiana erupted for 125 yards on 14 carries, showcasing great burst and agility in the process. As the season went on, he showed the excitement was indeed much ado about something, rushing for 1,125 yards on roughly seven yards per carry. Williams was named 1st team All-Big 12 by the coaches, and it appeared Kansas had a legitimate star in the backfield for at least two years.
Fast forward just a couple weeks from the All-Big 12 selection. News leaked that Williams had been arrested on suspicion of domestic battery, and was suspended by the team. The victim alleged that “she was punched in the stomach, as well as grabbed by the throat” by Williams.
Ultimately, Williams was granted diversion by the Douglas County Attorney’s office. The details of the diversion agreement require Williams to complete 40 hours of community service, submit to a domestic violence offender assessment, and take an anger management course. He also agreed to abstain from alcohol and drug use until diversion is completed.
The University of Kansas Athletic Department has stayed mum on the subject. To this day, Williams remains suspended from team activities, leaving only speculation as to his exact fate as a member of the Jayhawks football team. KU no doubt wants to treat this matter carefully, as this is is only the latest in a growing list of domestic violence cases involving high profile football players in recent years, with one of the biggest still unfolding down the road in Kansas City at 1 Arrowhead Drive.
So what is the answer for Pooka?
It would seem that any likely course of action taken by the University is going to have to fall into one of three categories:
-Removal from the team
This seems likely only if Williams fails to abide by any conditions given to him by the legal system or the team. If KU were inclined to simply kick him off the team for the original incident, they would have done so by now. With the criminal case settled, there wouldn’t appear to be any new information about the incident forthcoming, so it would make no sense to wait so long to kick him off the team after having all available information for months.
Simple reinstatement also seems a bit unlikely. This is a serious issue and from both a moral and public relations perspective, assigning Williams no consequences beyond his diversion agreement is the wrong way to go.
This is my favored course of action. If Williams has a history of this or any other type of criminal behavior, it hasn’t been made public. Kansas can suspend Williams for a set number of games, but allow him back to team related activities. They can also impose some additional conditions, such as maintaining higher grades, additional counseling or community service, etc. This would solidify to a young man with a potentially bright future that this is a second, but final, chance with the University, and any future transgressions would result in removal from the team.
It will be interesting to see not only what Kansas does, but when they do it. If there’s still no formal announcement by fall camp, which is less than two months away, it can reasonably be assumed that the University has in fact given Williams some steps to take to earn reinstatement, and is waiting to see how he handles them before going public with any news. Otherwise, news of his fate may come any day now.