JEFFERSON CITY • A state lawmaker has introduced legislation taking aim at the University of Missouri football team’s role in the racial tension that roiled the campus in November.
State Rep. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, filed a proposal Friday that would revoke the scholarship of any college athlete who refuses to play “for a reason unrelated to health.”
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 bill comes after members of the MU football team said they would stop participating in team activities until former university system president Timothy M. Wolfe resigned.
A day after the announcement by more than 30 players, the Tigers’ then-head coach Gary Pinkel expressed support for the move, saying on Twitter that the team “stands as one.”
“We are united. We are behind our players,” he tweeted.
On Nov. 9, Wolfe resigned and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin was reassigned. Pinkel announced his resignation soon after for health reasons.
Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-O’Fallon, 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.
A university spokesman declined to comment Monday. But, a section of the MU student athlete handbook notes that scholarship money is raised through private sources, not state appropriations.
Brattin, a member of the Legislature since 2010, is the owner of a drywall company and served in the Marine Corps for six years.
The Cass County lawmaker could not immediately be reached for comment.
The proposal 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.”
Schmitt also wants tougher audits of the university.
“We have to be to sure the administrators are spending our tax dollars wisely,” Schmitt said in a statement issued Dec. 2.
The House and Senate return to action Jan. 6.
The anti-strike bill is House Bill 1743.