This a tough one, depending on your sensibilities.
We live in a forgiving society. And fans spoke loud and clear when they gave former Florida point guard Jason Williams a loud ovation when he was recognized over the PA system during the first half of Saturday’s game against South Carolina.
Williams took in the Florida-South Carolina game from courtside. He’s made it a habit to attend at least one Florida game a year, a sign of loyalty toward Billy Donovan, his former college coach at both Marshall and UF.
No one is disputing that Williams may have been one of the most spectacular players ever to wear a Gator uniform. His 12-year NBA career, winding down as a backup with the Orlando Magic, is testament to that.
Kentucky writers still marvel at the 31-point effort Williams had against the eventual national champion Wildcats in 1998, which led Florida to its first victory at Rupp Arena in nine years. His 17 assists against Duquense on Dec. 3, 1997 remains a school record.
But the fact remains that Williams played just 20 games in a Gator uniform during the 1997-98 season, was kicked out of school for failed multiple drug tests and never earned his degree. Asked later what he liked most about college, Williams was quoted as saying “I cherished getting kicked out of school.”
Maybe Williams has grown up since then. He’s had a somewhat turbulent relationship with the media in his 12-year NBA career. Donovan has said at times that Williams is often misunderstood.
Williams should be invited back for his contributions to Florida, however brief. But given his baggage during his UF career, should a school of higher learning recognize a dropout who failed multiple drug tests.