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Williams must meet special academic conditions

7/28/2004 - Miami Hurricanes

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.

"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.