Community Oversight Now wants athletes to reject Tenn. college offers in response to bill


The Community Oversight Now Coalition, the group behind Nashville's development of an oversight board, wants Nashville's top athletes to reject offers from Tennessee colleges and go to historically black colleges instead.

The "Don't Play Where You're Not Welcome" campaign was launched in response to state Republican legislation aiming to restrict oversight boards statewide. The group wants to steer top-ranked athletes away from Tennessee institutions and accept athletic scholarships elsewhere, calling the athletes the "bread and butter of Tennessee's sports economy."

“It’s about the dollars. And again, this is not something we desire to do but the people have spoken,” said Arnold Hayes, a member of the CONC.

The Metro Council in Nashville recently appointed the 11-member board. Board member Walter Holloway said legislation like HB 658 could compromise their ability.

“There would be some information that would be key to the investigation so, we would want to see any information that would be withheld,” said Holloway.

The coalition also said they want star athletes to play in environments where they will be protected by police accountability measures and 14th amendment equal protection claims.

“They may have on their jersey that says Tennessee. It may say Vanderbilt, but once they get out of that jersey they are just as much as anyone in danger of police misconduct,” said Hayes.

The oversight coalition's push comes just one day after Tennessee Republicans filed a bill to define a community oversight board and set guidelines for how they investigate.

“Its goal is to protect the fundamental rights of our police officers and our citizens,” bill sponsor Michael Curcio (R- Dickson) said Monday.

One of the items the proposed legislation would take away is the power to subpoena officers, meaning if an officer does not want to take part in an oversight board's investigation they cannot be forced to do so.

While some believe the move undermines Nashville voters, Republican lawmakers deny the bill has any association with Nashville's budding community oversight board.

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