In the wake of a strike by the University of Missouri’s football team during the height of the school’s racial tension in November, a state lawmaker has introduced legislation that would punish athletes for taking such a stand in the future.
State Rep. Rick Brattin, a Republican from Harrisonville, filed a proposal Friday that would revoke the scholarship of any college athlete who refuses to play “for a reason unrelated to health,” reports the AP.
The measure also would require the university to levy a fine against any member of a coaching staff who encourages an athlete to participate in a strike.
The measure comes after members of the MU football team said they would stop participating in team activities until former university system president Tim Wolfe resigned.
A day after the announcement by more than 30 players, former Tiger head coach Gary Pinkel expressed support for the move, saying on Twitter that the team “stands as one.”
On Nov. 10, Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin stepped down from their roles. Pinkel announced his resignation soon after for health reasons.
Republican state Rep. Kurt Bahr has signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill, saying he wants to try and send the university a message about the use of scholarships.
“That is state money. We can, as a Legislature, make sure the money is being used wisely,” Bahr said.
Brattin, a member of the Legislature since 2010, is the owner of a drywall company and served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years.
The anti-strike bill (House Bill 1743) is the latest legislative reaction to the flare-up on the campus in Columbia.
State Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, filed legislation on Dec. 2 that would make course materials taught by employees at state-funded universities publicly accessible.
He said the measure was inspired by a media criticism class taught by assistant professor Melissa Click, who was thrust into the spotlight after she had an altercation with journalists covering the upheaval.
“The taxpayers of Missouri spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to fund our colleges and universities,” Schmitt said. “At a minimum, the taxpayers should know what topics professors are teaching our students and what resources they are using.”
The House and Senate return to action Jan. 6.
(Photo Source: Mizzou Football Instagram)