College coaches, ADs could be suspended for bad fan behavior under proposed Oregon House bill

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College coaches, ADs could be suspended for bad fan behavior under proposed Oregon House bill

A bill proposed in the Oregon state House is targeting fan behavior at college sporting events and would hold coaches and athletic directors accountable if fans act out. Under the proposed bill, coaches such as Dan Lanning, Jonathan Smith, Dana Altman and Scott Rueck and athletic directors such as Rob Mullens and Scott Barnes could face one-week suspensions if fans at Oregon or Oregon State games “engage in the use of derogatory or inappropriate names, insults, verbal assaults, profanity or ridicule in violation of equity focused policies.” Public universities in Oregon could also lose state grants, state scholarship money and support from the Oregon State Police if they fail to enact and enforce policies that address such language that occurs at school events, including sporting events, under . A state law regulating fan behavior in which college coaches and athletic directors would face suspensions would be unprecedented. As written, the bill does not address who is the arbiter of the fans’ behavior or if violators have to have an allegiance to a public university in the state, potentially creating an incentive for opposing fans to act egregiously and under the guise of being aligned with a state school in order to prompt suspensions against UO or OSU coaches and athletic directors.

The bill, proposed by Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Clackamas, would require public universities to maintain a “transparent complaint process” that has a reporting system for participants or the public to “make complaints about student, coach or spectator behavior,” according to the bill. Schools would have to respond to those complaints within 48 hours, attempt to resolve them within 30 days, develop and implement a “system of sanctions against students, coaches and spectators” if a complaint is verified and conduct an annual survey of students “to understand and respond to potential violations of equity focused policies.” Additionally, the bill would require all athletic department employees to receive training related to these policies. A work session for the bill, which is supported by the Oregon Student Association, has been called for March 28 at 3 p.

m. The bill proposal comes in response to the from a small number of students at Autzen Stadium during Oregon’s football game against BYU last September. The University of Oregon and the Pit Crew, Oregon’s student section, , which was condemned by then-Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and then-interim UO president Patrick Phillips.

Mullens and Lanning also apologized and condemned the incident. In a letter supporting the bill, Bynum, whose son Ellis is a walk-on running back at Oregon, says the proposal “does not strive to create a strict regimen to regulate and take the fun out of college sports.” “As the proud mother of an Oregon Duck football player, I appreciate how college sports can cultivate great leaders and teach them skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives,” Bynum wrote. “However, I’ve also heard horror stories from players, coaches, and staff about out-of-control behavior from student sections and fans that provides nothing productive.” The bill is marked as emergency legislation and would go into effect upon passage and apply beginning with the 2023-24 academic year.

Via spokespeople, Mullens and Barnes each did not immediately respond to requests for comment on HB 2472.

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