Well, Les Miles is definitely back in college football.
In 2013, Miles reinstated star LSU running back Jeremy Hill four months after he was arrested for battery through a team vote, and time has clearly not changed him. On Monday, the new Kansas head coach announced star Jayhawks running back Pooka Williams will be suspended one game–the opener, against South Dakota–just seven months after he was arrested for domestic violence.
On Dec. 7, 2018–just two and a half weeks after Miles took the Kansas job–Williams was arrested for allegedly punching his 18-year-old girlfriend in the stomach and grabbing her by the throat. The arrest affidavit showed the woman had visible bruises on her arms and side, and that she showed text messages to a University of Kansas police officer where Williams admitted to punching her in the arms. Interviewed by the officer, Williams admitted to pushing her “when he saw her in a room with other guys.”
In late March, Williams entered a diversion program, putting him on a year-long probation where, if terms of the probation are met, the criminal charges will be dropped.
And with the threat of jail time out of the way, Williams is free from consequence on the football field as well.
“Pooka has taken responsibility for his actions and we are happy he is back with the team,” Miles said in a press release. “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.”
KU AD Jeff Long was also quoted, emphasizing that Williams had been suspended since the incident first occurred in December and faced internal penalties from KU, while also saying his behavior was “unacceptable as a member of any community, especially our university community.”
Except it is acceptable as a member of the KU community, because they just accepted it. They just told us they accept it.
Oh, sure, Kansas will tell us they took it seriously because Williams missed spring ball, and he’ll miss the all-important opener against Indiana State.
In reality, Kansas just told every player in its locker room that hitting a woman is an acceptable behavior as a Jayhawk football player–as long as you’re good. (Williams rushed for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman in 2018.) Hit a woman, and you’ll miss winter conditioning, spring practices and half of summer workouts–the worst parts of being a college football player–and you’ll still get to play in all the important games.
But that’s not the most important message Miles and Kansas send here.
In a twisted way, a 1-game suspension is a bigger insult to Williams’ victim than if he hadn’t been suspended at all.
With no suspension, at least Kansas takes an intellectually honest stance that either it straight up doesn’t believe her side of the story (and Williams has taken responsibility for his actions, at least according to KU, so that’s not the case here) or the school believes that its players are free to play as long as the legal system says they are.
But with a 1-game suspension, Kansas says it believes Williams’ victim and values what she has to say–but only a little bit. The violence she experienced was worth 1/12th of Williams’ season. That’s all she’s worth.
It’s so messed up. In 1998 I remember being so angry about the 1 game suspension of the men who raped me but also trying to rationalize my value as a human by saying well at least 1 game is more than nothing? Survivors shouldn’t be forced to think these things.
— Brenda Tracy (@brendatracy24) July 8, 2019
Six years after passing the buck on Jeremy Hill, to think that Miles missed the mark again, well, it’s just really disappointing.