Calling civil rights protests last month on Missouri’s campus “anarchy,” a state representative explained his proposed state law that would revoke scholarships for athletes who refuse to play.
Missouri Rep. Rick Brattin’s bill would take away scholarships from athletes who refused to play for non-health related issues. He said it was “absolutely” in response to the protests that became a national story last month at Missouri.
The night of Nov. 7, members of the Tigers football team tweeted -- in support of the Concerned Student 1950 protests -- they would withhold services until then-system president Tim Wolfe resigned. The next day, Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel and what looked like most of the Tigers supported that stance in a tweet accompanied by a team picture.
“I think it was a knee-jerk reaction,” Brattin said. “The university should have stood against this anarchy that happened with this protest.”
Brattin (R-Harrisonville) told CBS Sports that he believes the team’s conduct was “completely horrific.” He added that, due to that incident, Missouri has a “radioactive brand now.”
At least one football recruit has stated he would not come to Missouri because of perceived race issues.
Reacting to the proposed bill, Mizzou doctoral student Reuben Faloughi told CBS Sports, “White supremacy strikes back. I think it’s wild, it’s unsettling.”
Faloughi is a former Georgia walk-on who has supported #ConcernedStudent1950.
Brattin also questioned the motives of hunger striker Jonathan Butler, a graduate student. It was Butler’s actions that motivated some Tigers to instigate the threat of the boycott. Butler went on his hunger strike vowing not to come off it until Wolfe resigned or was fired.
“I think it was somebody out for some publicity,” Brattin said in reference to Butler.
“The student, who was on this hunger strike and said all these race relations were so horrible at the university, had been going there by choice. I find that really tough to believe and to swallow. Out of choice, he come to that school for eight years with race relations that are bad.”
Butler ended his hunger strike and Missouri players said they would return to the practice field after Wolfe’s resignation.
The proposed bill from Brattin, has only been pre-filed and has no scheduled hearing as of press time. If voted on and passed, his measure would go in effect Aug. 28, just prior to the beginning of the 2016 college football season. It is scheduled to be considered next month at Missouri’s 98th General Assembly in Jefferson City.
Former Missouri safety Ian Simon, leader of the player boycott, responded to the bill with a statement released to the media.
"They want to call us student athletes. But they keep us out of the student part of it. I'm more than just a football player. ...As soon as we're done playing at the University of Missouri, the University of Missouri does not care about us anymore. We are not their responsibility. ...Our sport is just a small part of who we are."
It should be noted scholarships at Missouri are paid for by donors and other sources. Public money is not used.
#ConcernedStudent1950 pitched tents in the middle of campus to bring awareness to their issue. They were joined at times by faculty who supported their cause.
Brattin said he did not believe there was a race relations problem on the Missouri campus or in the city of Columbia. CBS Sports reported that a pickup truck drove by the protestors campsite on campus waving a Confederate flag one day after the players’ initial tweet.
“I think you have a couple of dumb students who did stupid things,” Brattin said.
The bill, which as of Monday night had yet to be posted in full, would also fine a head coach for siding with the players in such a situation. Brattin criticized Pinkel for aligning with his players. Shortly after doing so, Pinkel retired due to health reasons.
“Whenever they go and refuse to play and hold our school and our organization hostage by refusal, it’s completely ridiculous,” Brattin said. “I shouldn’t even have to be sponsoring a bill like this.
“What a disgrace to Missouri.”
He continued: “I think it falls squarely upon the coach who gave the anointed blessing to this type of behavior. If they want to engage in this type of behavior, do it on their own time.”
The boycott threatened the playing of Missouri’s Nov. 14 game against BYU. The game contract stated if a team cancelled the game, it would owe the opponent $1 million.
“[That] takes it to a whole ‘nother level,” Brattin said.
Brattin, 35, was elected in 2010. He served for six years in the Marines joining shortly after September 11th. He said old-school coaches such as Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry would not have tolerated the actions by the Missouri players.
“I played football and I was in the military, and it’s a privilege to be out on that field,” Brattin said. “These donors give a lot of money to give you a scholarship to come play, not to engage in political activity and hold the university hostage.”
"They could have come out and protested peacefully … but when they came out and coerced the school to their demands and have the school pay a fine of … $1 million … that goes from where it’s your First Amendment rights to where you’re affecting others.”
Brattin said the proposed legislation would not infringe on those players’ First Amendment rights.
“If you’re going to engage in this type of behavior, we’ll find someone else who wants to play,” he said.
CBS Sports college football writer Chip Patterson contributed to this report.