SEC football coaches ban players from owning handguns

At least 10 college football coaches reportedly admitted that they ban their players from legally owning handguns, citing university policies against campus carry and arguing that there is no need for student-athletes to own them.

Matthew Stevens, a reporter for The Montgomery Advertiser, tweeted that head coaches from Southeastern Conference (SEC) football programs discussed each of their gun ownership policies in a recent teleconference.

University of Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said football players in his program are banned from owning firearms, even if the law permits it, adding that he requires his athletes to explain why they want to own a gun in order to receive an exemption from the policy.

“We tell them no guns,” Stoops said. “A player certainly doesn’t need to be owning a handgun in Lexington, Kentucky.”

University of Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason also weighed in against players owning handguns, saying “there isn’t a need for it” and observing that it becomes an issue for his team when players go home during breaks in the school year.

University of Georgia coach Kirby Smart said he has known of players at different schools with concealed carry permits, something that, in his opinion, “always concerns you,” adding that he holds conversations and an educational process for players on concerns related to owning handguns.

Several other coaches, though, took a more nuanced position, distinguishing between owning handguns, presumably for self-defense, and long guns meant for hunting.

University of Missouri head coach Barry Odom said that Mizzou Tigers players are forbidden from owning handguns the entire time that they are on the team, but noted that hunting is a separate issue.

[RELATED: Enrollment drop from Mizzou protests worse than feared]

University of Arkansas coach Bret Bielema takes a different approach with his team, saying he knows that some of the Razorbacks’ players legally own firearms, and that he shares with them stories of other football players who have gotten into legal trouble over handguns.

Bielema said he and University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Director Barry Alverez, whom he previously worked for, don’t want their players out deer hunting because it can cause unneeded leg fatigue.

Stevens tweeted that as a Wisconsin native, he knew Alvarez and Bielema’s attempts to stop players from deer hunting were in vain.

University of Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze said that the Rebels don’t have a team policy on handguns, but mused that “I probably should think about that issue,” speculating that if he sat the team down to explain a ban on handguns, he would tell reluctant players to “sit up and pay attention.”

Freeze also noted that he would view handguns differently than hunting rifles, an opinion shared by Mississippi State University coach Dan Mullen, who related that he has a “no weapons policy” and thinks players should avoid situations requiring a handgun.

Even in Second Amendment-friendly Texas, the gun ownership situation for football players seems grim.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin reportedly stated that “we have a no handguns policy and have had that since we’ve been here,” despite state law allowing the concealed carry of handguns on campus.

[RELATED: Campus carry takes effect in Texas]

University of Florida coach Jim McElwain and University of Tennessee coach Butch Jones also mentioned that their schools ban guns, but did not elaborate.

University of South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said he follows a campus policy banning handguns on campus, but mentioned that his state does issue concealed carry permits, and did not specify whether he allows players who live off-campus to own firearms.

Auburn University coach Gus Malzahn said he has certain “expectations” of his players, but didn’t specify if his team has a firearms ownership policy. Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama are the only other schools in the SEC whose coaches were not quoted by Stevens on their team firearms ownership policies.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @RiersonNC