SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told leadership at Mississippi State and Ole Miss that teams in the conference might not play in the state if it passes a proposed gun law.
Sankey said SEC schools may "decline opportunities" to play at their schools should House Bill 1083 be passed into law. HB 1083 would allow people with "enhanced firearms license" to carry concealed weapons on publicly owned land — including public universities and, more importantly, their sports venues.
In Sankey's letter, he wrote:
Given the intense atmosphere surrounding athletic events, adding weapons increases meaningful safety concerns and is expected to negatively impact the intercollegiate athletics programs at your universities in several ways. If HB 1083 is adopted to permit weapons in college sports venues, it is likely that competitors will decline opportunities to play in Oxford and Starkville, game officials will decline assignments, personal safety concerns will be used against Mississippi’s universities during the recruiting process and fan attendance will be negatively impacted.
Sankey cited receiving concerns from the SEC's other member institutions when a similar gun law was considered in Arkansas. Leadership at the University of Arkansas feared the passing of House Bill 1249 — which allows concealed carry on all publicly owned land — would cost the school its SEC membership. The state later added an amendment to exclude on-campus sports venues.
Sankey isn't the only person to oppose HB 1083. Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter released a statement on the school's stance, saying "it would negatively impact the University of Mississippi’s ability to continue to uphold the safety and security for our students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors on all our campuses."
The bill was passed in the Mississippi House by an 80-29 vote, but will need to be passed in the Senate for it to become law.