University of Kansas

KU’s Miles on Pooka suspension: ‘I did not make this decision, but I stand by it’

Kansas football coach Les Miles says he’s in agreement with a one-game suspension given to running back Pooka Williams by athletic director Jeff Long last week following Williams’ December arrest and domestic battery charge.

Miles, who spoke for 20 minutes on the podium during Monday’s Big 12 media days at AT&T Stadium, brought up the matter unprompted.

“He’s taken responsibility. He’s been remorseful,” Miles said of Williams. “He’s learned from this experience, as has our team.”

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.

Until last week, Williams had remained suspended from the KU football team for seven months while his matter was being resolved.

“We’re thankful to have him back and again, no violence against a woman is OK,” Miles said. “I did not make this decision (on the suspension), but I stand by it and see it as a right one.”

Miles, during a later side session with reporters, spoke about a personal belief that the head coach should not have a say when it comes to suspensions in matters like this.

“What you have to do to make that opinion is go in and look at what’s released and what’s available to you to make a quality opinion,” Miles said. “I can’t make a quality opinion. I know a lot that’s gone on. But I haven’t seen anything released to give me the view that I need to have. ... The football coach is not qualified to give an opinion.”

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

Williams is 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.

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, go through an anger management course by Nov. 30, refrain from alcohol and drug use for one year, have no contact with the victim, complete 40 hours of community service and pay $158 in court costs.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who took the stage first during Big 12 football media days, said KU had followed the conference’s “serious misconduct” policy that was created a few years ago by having the matter investigated by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.

“The Kansas process followed what our misconduct policy describes and that is that the decision is made outside of the athletics department and within university higher administration,” Bowlsby said. “That’s the level at which that decision was made.”

Bowlsby believed the system of bringing in university administrators to determine potential sanctions in misconduct cases was beneficial because “if that’s the standard, that universities can be counted upon to go through the right processes and come to the right conclusions.”

Williams’ domestic battery charge resulted from an incident with 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.

He will miss KU’s 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.