Williams must meet special academic conditions

Updated: July 28, 2004, 1:03 PM ET
Associated Press

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Star football recruit Willie Williams will be admitted to Miami despite a previously undisclosed arrest record, but he must abide by what the school says are tougher academic standards.

University president Donna Shalala said the school has "placed the bar high" for Williams, considered the top high school linebacker by many recruiting services.

Willie Williams and Larry Coker
Willie Williams, left, says he has learned from his mistakes. Miami and coach Larry Coker will hold him to that.

"There will be academic conditions that he must meet," Shalala wrote in a letter released Tuesday. "Additionally, he will participate in a program that we provide for all athletes that provides mentoring, constructive counseling and monitoring of their behavior -- both on and off campus."

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Williams pleaded no contest earlier this summer in two separate episodes in Gainesville during his official visit to Florida, one of his many pursuers. He faced a felony count of setting off fire extinguishers at his hotel, along with a misdemeanor battery charge for hugging a woman without consent.

Each plea resulted in a year's probation for Williams, whose arrest record dates back to 1999, mainly for theft and burglary. What happened in Gainesville could have sent Williams to jail for a year; he was already on probation for a 2002 felony burglary charge.

Williams, a Miami native, met with media for the first -- and maybe last -- time since his police record became known after the trouble in Gainesville. He attended a news conference with athletic director Paul Dee and Hurricanes coach Larry Coker. Williams was also joined by his mother, sister and grandmother.

"I know in the past I have made some mistakes, but I have learned from these mistakes," said Williams, who added that he will not talk to the media in the "foreseeable future."

Dee insisted the decision to admit Williams did not signal a return to the old days when the Hurricanes were referred to as a team of "convicts."

"I can't control what people think," Dee said. "I can tell them what the facts are. The fact of the matter is there is no return to the 'days of misunderstandings,' as I prefer to call it."

Along with the school's code of conduct, Dee said Williams would also have to abide by several special academic conditions. He did not give details.

"I take this very personal," Coker said. "I think that my reputation and my legacy are on the line with all these players that I recruited ... not just with Willie.

"I believe in this young man."

A University of Miami panel ultimately recommended that the school admit the Parade All-American.

"They brought broad experience in reading complicated admissions applications, which in this case revealed a more accurate picture of a young man than what you have read to date," Shalala wrote.

Williams had 83 tackles and 18 sacks last season, helping Miami Carol City win the Florida Class 6A title. His arrest record and the complaints levied against him in Gainesville were revealed Feb. 4, the same day Williams signed his letter of intent to enroll at Miami.

Miami freshmen report to camp Aug. 9, with practice scheduled to begin the next day. The Hurricanes open the season, their first in the Atlantic Coast Conference, on Sept. 6 against Florida State.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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