COLUMBIA, Mo. – In a teleconference with reporters Wednesday, University of Missouri football coach Barry Odom revealed a team policy that may put the school under more scrutiny from the Missouri legislature.
As reported by Fox Sports yesterday, Odom’s rules state that no player could own a handgun if they played for him. This rule has angered many Republican legislators and gun rights activists who argue that Odom has created a double standard.
In the call, Odom said that guns used for hunting were different from handguns, but Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, uses a pistol to hunt. Munzlinger questioned why it was different to use a pistol for hunting and self-defense.
“It seems to me that the university and the MU Athletic Department believe these student citizens may be just football players,” he said. “But in Missouri and in the United States of America, these students are still citizens, and no publicly funded institution should have a policy that overrides our Missouri laws, our state constitution or the U.S. Constitution.”
Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, R-Carrollton, called the policy “unbelievable.”
“I am concerned these players’ rights and all student citizens’ constitutional rights are under attack by a publicly-funded state university which has pending lawsuits against it regarding self-defense on campus from both a law professor and the Attorney General,” McGaugh said. “Not only do we have a university that clearly ignores state law, now we have the football coach wants to deny a legal age citizen their constitutional rights regardless of where they live?
“I certainly hope the University will reconsider this policy and any policy that overrides our laws or the Constitution.”
Odom’s statements come as the university faces two lawsuits regarding their firearms policy. University of Missouri law professor Royce Barondes is suing his own school for infringing on his constitutional rights because it does not allow concealed weapons on campus. Attorney General Chris Koster has also filed a suit Aug. 17 giving the university 90 days to put its weapons standards in line with state law.
The National Rifle Association also denounced Odom’s statements especially as the university faces legal challenges to those policies.
“Coach Odom’s statement regarding his personal philosophy and MU’s firearm bans yesterday is a perfect example of the tail wagging the tiger’s head at MU in Columbia,” NRA Missouri spokesman Whitney O’Daniel said. “Isn’t the two lawsuits… enough for this public funded institution to know their anti-gun policies are not above the constitutional rights of citizens and taxpayers?”
All other campuses in the SEC ban concealed carry on campus as do all 13 public universities in Missouri. Those schools have repeatedly fought attempts by lawmakers to mandate those rules.
Other legislators and conservatives also took to social media to denounce Odom’s policy.
@coach_odem Who gave you the authority to remove a Constitutionally Secured right in owning a gun? How does this apply football? #moleg
— Jered Taylor (@Jered_Taylor) September 1, 2016
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) September 1, 2016
UPDATED 3:16 p.m.: Rep. Caleb Jones, R-Columbia, managed to speak with Odom who clarified his comments from yesterday.
— Caleb Jones (@calebmjones) September 1, 2016
Odom is in his first year at the helm of Mizzou football after the departure of longtime head coach Gary Pinkel. Pinkel also drew the ire of some elected officials in his final year on campus by supporting a boycott of football activities mounted by the team’s black players during the Concerned Student 1950 unrest on campus last year. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder often brought up Pinkel unfavorably in his stump speeches during his run for governor.
That unrest resulted in the firing of former UM System President Tim Wolfe.
A spokesman for the section of the athletic department spoke to the Missouri Times but was unable to offer any further information on Odom’s statements or the specifics of the policy.