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Missouri bill would strip scholarships from athletes who refuse to play

A proposed Missouri bill would revoke scholarships of athletes who refused to play for any reason unrelated to health. 

Missouri state representatives Rick Brattin and Kurt Bahr have proposed a bill that would revoke scholarships from college athletes who refuse to play for a reason unrelated to health.

The bill, HB 1743, was introduced on Monday, and its authors hope to pass it by next August, just in time for next college football season. A hearing for the bill has not yet been scheduled. 

The bill follows a high–profile boycott from the University of Missouri football team in November. 

This fall, a number of Missouri students criticized university system president Tim Wolfe for his handling of several racially–charged incidents on campus. One student, Jonathan Butler, a 25-year-old graduate student, became the face of the campus movement to address recurring incidents of racism when he announced in a letter to the university that he would engage in a hunger strike until Wolfe “is removed from office or my internal organs fail and my life is lost.”

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In support of Butler's hunger strike, several members of the Missouri football team said it would boycott all football-related activities until Wolfe resigned or was fired. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel tweeted his support for the striking players and said the entire team was united behind the protest. 

Wolfe resigned two days after the football team announced its strike. After Wolfe’s resignation, the football team resumed activities and Butler ended his hunger strike.

On Monday, Bahr said that the bill was in reaction to the boycott, adding that “if they’re going to receive state money, there are going to be ramifications.” However, the university’s athlete handbook states that the school doesn’t receive state funds to operate intercollegiate programs. The athletic department operates solely on the revenue it generates.

Former Missouri defensive lineman Lucas Vincent took to Twitter to respond to the proposed bill.