A state senator has placed a hold on the University of Arkansas's budget request after six members of the women's basketball team knelt during the national anthem last week to protest police shootings of African-Americans. The Republican senator, Alan Clark, said he will also introduce an amendment that would cut university funding by an amount equal to the women's basketball budget, even though the university's athletics department is self-sufficient and does not use state funds. The university's budget would normally be considered by the state Legislature in February.
Clark, a member of the state's Joint Budget Committee, said the hold was a way to get "answers" from Jimmy Dykes, the team's head coach, and Jeff Long, the university's athletic director. Dykes and Long last week both said they supported the players' right to free speech but did not publicly support or condone the protest itself. Clark has suggested that university officials helped coordinate the protests, though there is no evidence to support that conclusion.
“I’m not using coercion to try to keep them from kneeling,” Clark said. “I am using the budget process to get the attention of Jeff Long and the chancellor and Dykes, to get their attention and whoever else is involved, that if they had anything to do with this, and I believe they did.”
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