University of Kansas

KU football’s Pooka Williams gets 1-game suspension following domestic battery charge

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Kansas Jayhawks football coach Les Miles explains what his team gained from its 15 spring practices. Miles spoke on April 15, 2019.
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Kansas Jayhawks football coach Les Miles explains what his team gained from its 15 spring practices. Miles spoke on April 15, 2019.

After a seven-month team suspension following a domestic battery charge, Kansas sophomore running back Pooka Williams will rejoin the Jayhawks this week before serving a one-game suspension for his actions, KU Athletics announced Monday.

Williams previously signed a 12-month diversion agreement with the Douglas County District Attorney’s office in March, a step that will drop his misdemeanor domestic battery charge if he completes the program.

KU Athletics revealed Monday that the school’s Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards also had investigated Williams’ incident and had given further sanctions; Williams gave the university permission to reveal those punishments.

Williams will now be subject to probation until he graduates, and he’ll also have to attend monthly meetings with a university conduct officer. In addition, he’s required to complete 40 hours of community service and take a sexual violence accountability course.

“Pooka’s behavior last December was unacceptable as a member of any community, especially our university community,” KU athletic director Jeff Long said in a release. “As a result, Kansas Athletics suspended Pooka from the football program in December when serious allegations were first brought forward, and he has remained suspended until now. ... While suspended, Pooka has done all that has been required of him by the courts, the university and Kansas Athletics, and most importantly, has accepted responsibility for his actions.”

Long said that KU Athletics would “continue our educational efforts with Pooka and with all our student-athletes regarding our expectations of them as representatives of the university.”

As part of his terms with the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office, Williams also agreed in March to:

undergo a domestic violence offender assessment, and if no other recommendations are made by that program, go through an anger management course by Nov. 30

refrain from alcohol and drug use during the one-year diversion period

have no contact with the victim

complete 40 hours of community service by Nov. 30

pay $158 in court costs

”My behavior was unacceptable, and I’m very sorry to those who were impacted by my poor choices,” Williams said in a release. “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.”

Added KU coach Les Miles: “Pooka has taken responsibility for his actions and we are happy he is back with the team. This young man has learned much throughout this process and we will support him as he continues working through the required educational and accountability steps.”

Williams’ domestic battery charge resulted from an incident between he and an 18-year-old woman on Dec. 5.

According to an arrest affidavit filed in Douglas County District Court, a KU police officer interviewed the victim around 11:15 a.m. Dec. 6, with the woman stating “she was punched in the stomach, as well as grabbed by the throat” by Williams at Stouffer Apartments on campus the previous day. The arrest affidavit stated the woman had bruises on her arms and side and also said that she showed text messages to the officer from Williams “where he admitted to punching (her) in the arms.” Both Williams and the victim said they were involved in an intimate relationship.

Williams, as part of the diversion, had to agree to a stipulation of facts. Williams signed a statement that said he grabbed and pushed the victim around 12:30 a.m. Dec. 5 at her friend’s apartment.

“When I entered, I confronted (the victim) about cheating on me. I was upset and I grabbed her by the arms during the argument,” the stipulation of facts read. “The other people in the room separated me from (the victim), and I left the room. I later returned to get my keys. I grabbed (the victim) by the wrist to get her to come to the hall with me, but the other people in the room separated me from her. I was able to get (the victim) to come out to the hall with me. While out in the hall we continued to argue and I pushed (her) out of the way and left.”

Williams, who was the Big 12’s offensive freshman of the year and also a first-team all-Big 12 coaches selection at both running back and kick returner, rushed for 1,125 yards last season.

Based on Monday’s announcement, KU will be without Williams for its season-opening game against FCS opponent Indiana State on Aug. 31 at Booth Memorial Stadium.

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Jesse Newell — he’s won an EPPY for best sports blog and previously has been named top beat writer in his circulation by AP’s Sports Editors — has covered KU sports since 2008. His interest in sports analytics comes from his math teacher father, who handed out rulers to Trick-or-Treaters each year.
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