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Coker insists Miami, Williams cleaning up act

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  • Coker insists Miami, Williams cleaning up act

    Associated Press
    ORLANDO, Fla. -- Coach Larry Coker insists that Miami's recruitment of a top football prospect with numerous legal troubles won't undo the Hurricanes' years of hard work in cleaning up their act.

    Willie Williams, regarded as the nation's best high school linebacker, was sentenced to probation twice in the past month for separate crimes -- including an incident during a recruiting trip to rival Florida. He has been arrested 11 times since 1999.

    Miami officials are considering whether to admit the 19-year-old Williams.

    Miami's administration still stings from the program's excesses of the 1980s and '90s. Under head coaches Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson, the Hurricanes were known as winners on the field and renegades off it. The NCAA eventually punished the program with a one-year bowl ban, three years of probation and the loss of dozens of scholarships.

    "We have worked very hard to create a clean image at the University of Miami," Coker told a meeting of the Florida Sports Writers Association. "And that's why we've been very careful about recommending to admit Willie Williams."

    Last month, 6-foot-2, 225-pound Williams pleaded no contest to a felony count of setting off fire extinguishers at a Gainesville hotel and misdemeanor battery for hugging a woman without her permission. He received a year's probation for each plea stemming from the Jan. 30 incident.

    "I'm very comfortable with what I know about the reasons we signed Willie Williams, the progress he's made and the things he can bring, not only on the football field," Coker said. "I'd like to see a very positive, positive outcome when Willie Williams is admitted to the university."