In response to a threat by Missouri Tigers football players to not play because of the administration’s handling of racial discrimination complaints on campus, a state legislator is proposing that student athletes lose their scholarships if they go on strike.
The proposal comes a month after the University of Missouri was rocked by protests in which 30 black football players refused to show up (which would have cost the school more than $1 million) unless President Tim Wolfe resigned. Days later, Wolfe announced he would step down and Law Professor/Civil Rights Attorney Mike Middleton was appointed as interim president in a decision praised by student activists.
The bill, HB 1743 proposes the following:
“Provides that any college athlete on scholarship who refuses to play for a reason unrelated to health shall have his or her scholarship revoked.”
Brattin’s plan would not only revoke scholarships for any protesting college athlete but would also fine coaching staff members who support the protests.
In addition to First Amendment objections, the bill could face challenges because the University of Missouri athletic department scholarships are raised through private resources and not on state funds, according to the student-athlete handbook. It’s unclear how the bill would affect money the state doesn’t supply.
If this new proposal is approved, it would place the Missouri players in an even tougher position. Should they continue to stand up for what’s right and risk losing their scholarships or should they continue to play to avoid possibly losing them?