ARLINGTON, Texas — Kansas sophomore running back Pooka Williams was suspended for one game — the Jayhawks season-opener against the Football Championship Subdivision’s Indiana State — after being arrested last December for assaulting his girlfriend.
First-year Kansas football coach Les Miles defended that suspension during his remarks Monday to open Big 12 Media Days at AT&T Stadium.
“Action was taken immediately,” Miles said. “We felt like a strong point was made not only with Pooka Williams Jr., but with the team. For seven and a half months, Pooka was going through a process and he didn’t’ have the opportunity to spend time with his team, go to the weight room — you know, just be a part [of the team].”
Williams had not been with the KU team since the incident — that suspension was handed down by Miles. Last week, the Kansas school administration suspended Williams for the first game of the season, but allowed him to rejoin the football program for team activities.
The woman Williams was accused of assaulting told police she was grabbed by the throat and punched in the stomach. The Kansas City Star reported Williams sent text messages to the woman admitting he punched her. According to an affidavit, police found bruises on the woman.
In March, Williams signed a 12-month diversion agreement with the Douglas County (Kansas) District Attorney’s office, which could result in his misdemeanor battery charge being dropped if he completes the program.
According to the Kansas City Star, Williams will have to attend monthly meeting with a university conduct officer, complete 40 hours of community service, take a sexual violence accountability course and will be on probation with the school until he graduates.
“Pooka went through legal investigation with the legal community,” Miles said. “Pooka also had proceedings that went through a conduct board at the university, and he basically understood very much that if he did not meet the criteria the board asked that this would not last long and he really met every criteria he could. He has taken responsibility. He has been remorseful. He’s learned from this experience as has our team. We’re glad to have him back, and again, no violence against a woman is okay. I did not make this decision, but I stand by it and see it as the right one.”
Williams was the Big 12’s second-leading rusher last season as a freshman, running for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns on 161 carries.