Big 12 Media Days are here and as expected media members were chomping at the bit to ask Les Miles about the Pooka Williams situation.
As many people know Williams was arrested and charged with domestic battery in December, and reached a domestic violence diversion agreement with the Douglas County district attorney’s office in March.
He was just recently reinstated after serving a seven-month suspension from all team activities, which included practicing and weight training.
The controversy comes with the University only suspending Williams for one regular season game. This game happens to be the most winnable on the schedule.
Miles started off his Big 12 Media Days by stating:
“No violence against a woman is OK. I did not make this decision but I stand by it and see it as the right one.”
Miles, talking Pooka Williams punishment: I did not make this decision but I stand by it and see it as a right one. #KUfball
— Benton Smith (@BentonASmith) July 15, 2019
This was after Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 Commissioner, stated the decision to suspend Williams the one game was made by university administration and not Coach Miles.
Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby says KU followed Big 12's misconduct policy on one-game suspension of Pooka Williams. Says the decision to suspend one game was made by university administration, not by head coach or those in KU Athletics.
— Jesse Newell (@jessenewell) July 15, 2019
But even then, the attention of the media was turned heavily on Miles and what else they could dig out of him in regards to the situation.
Unfortunately for those interested in creating a story, that would not be the case. After taking questions about the program Miles then walked off the stage refusing to take any additional questions on the Pooka matter.
Wow! Typically all coaches will answer a few more questions after they get off the podium. Les Miles was not interested and walked back into the tunnel with reporters chasing and following him. Welcome back to the @Big12Conference ?? #Big12MediaDays
— Heartland College Sports (@Heartland_CS) July 15, 2019
I can see how this can be frustrating especially for those looking for a story. The narrative that the coach didn’t make the suspension just doesn’t sit well, because frankly they didn’t have the opportunity during Big 12 Media Days to interview the administration who did make the decision.
But it was Miles’ approval of the suspension that drew the most attention.
How would he approve of such a small punishment yet in the same breath say violence against any woman is unacceptable?
I get it. Violence against any woman is unacceptable and there should be a zero tolerance policy within every sports program.
But there isn’t.
Society tends to value talent more than it does character. And it’s because of the revenue and the entertainment value of the players.
Yes, Williams hit a woman and in today’s society that is a big no-no. But he also runs super fast and makes a lot of exciting plays. I mean, last year he was rated the top RB in the Big 12. Why wouldn’t we want to see more of that?
I’m not saying Williams is a bad person. I’m not even saying he doesn’t deserve a second chance. I’m also not saying he does. The fact is we only know what the media has given us. There could be things held deep within the university administration walls that we’ll never know.
But what I am saying is if the media is so upset about the weak suspension and lack of accountability on the part of the university, then they should look at the real problem; Society.
Imagine if Kansas had kicked Williams off the team. What would happen then?
Well first, Kansas would still catch a bad rap for even having a player on their team who would do such a thing. It doesn’t matter if they couldn’t avoid it, that’s just how society works.
But what comes next is the most troublesome.
Williams would simply sign with another program and continue to do what he does best; play football.
I’m sure you’ve seen the TV Show “Last Chance U” on Netflix. It’s all about guys like Williams who make mistakes but get second chances to get back to the D-1 level of football.
People love these stories and it shows by the insanely high ratings the show receives.
I have to admit, I love it. Something about a good come back story really gets my blood boiling.
But it’s exactly where society is going wrong. If this type of action is unacceptable, then it needs to be just that; unacceptable.
If a player hits a female or is involved in any domestic dispute where they are found to be guilty, then their football playing days are over. Make it that simple.
It seems a bit harsh. A lot of people get second chances in life and maybe I should be a little more sensitive to that.
Or maybe the players guilty of such crimes do get a second chance. It may not be the second chance they desire; playing football. But they get a second chance at life by having a chance to finish their education and by setting up the rest of their lives for success. And they could even go as far as helping others by teaching them not to make the same mistakes they did.
That’s a true comeback story I can get behind. A player that lost his chance to play football helps young student-athletes around the nation by preaching to them the importance of character over just talent.
Having said that, I think what Kansas did was just fine. I think the suspension of Williams definitely could have been a little more severe. Maybe three games would have been more sufficient. But that’s neither here nor there.
They did the best thing they could have done, which is what society allowed them to do. They accepted what happened, put Williams through a program to rehabilitate him, took responsibility and then made sure they’re the ones who will continue to monitor it. All the while reaping the benefits of his talents.
Either way, this is an issue all over the country. It’s not just about the coaches or the university administration, it’s about society as a whole and what it allows everyone to get away with.