Editorials

KU is right to suspend “Pooka” Williams after a domestic battery arrest, but more must be done

Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. carries the ball against Central Michigan during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Mount Pleasant, Mich. (Jim Lahde/The Morning Sun via AP)
Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. carries the ball against Central Michigan during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Mount Pleasant, Mich. (Jim Lahde/The Morning Sun via AP) File photo/The Associated Press

News that a football player at the University of Kansas was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery is disturbing and frustrating for all of us — and perhaps especially so for those who followed the case of former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt this week.

According to paperwork in the Douglas County Sheriff’s office, KU running back Anthony Ray Williams — known as “Pooka” — was arrested Thursday afternoon. No other details concerning the accusation were immediately available.

New football coach Les Miles said Williams had been suspended from all football activities. “We are taking these allegations very seriously,” Miles said in a statement.

Kansans should not prejudge the Williams accusation until all the facts are in. At the same time, Miles was right to suspend the student from team activities pending a further investigation. Indeed, if the allegation proves to be true, further punishment will be warranted, including potential dismissal from the team and the university.

The Chiefs also made the right decision in dismissing Hunt, who shoved and kicked a woman in February.

Domestic violence and violence against women are a scourge. America must do more — much more — to educate men about the horrible danger of that violence, and how to find ways to avoid it.

That seems particularly true now for young athletes. Football is a violent game, but it is just a game. The people who organize and coach the sport have an absolute duty to teach players and coaches about the difference between the violence of the game and the costs of violence in the real world.

That counseling should begin early. And it should not be limited to a one-time lecture: If teams, even in high school, lack ongoing access to counseling and mental health services, they should add them now. Players and personnel should know help is always available to deal with anger involving physical threats to others.

That kind of counseling should be available to everyone, of course. The lack of quality mental health services in the United States is an ongoing scandal, undoubtedly adding to the higher crime rate in many cities. People who need help should be able to get it, without questions asked or a credit card required.

The people we cheer on Saturdays and Sundays are not perfect, and should not be held to that standard. But they must know — and should be taught, again — that hitting or threatening others is always wrong. They should also know where to find help if needed.

We hope Pooka Williams gets that help. The University of Kansas should make sure he gets it, whether or not he ever plays another down for the football team.

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