After communicating with officials at the Arkansas State and Little Rock Athletics Departments, Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson has issued the following statement regarding Arkansas House Bill 1249 and Act 562:
“During the last week I have followed closely the news articles regarding Arkansas House Bill 1249, and now also a potential amendment to what is now Act 562. Given that both the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Arkansas State University are members of the Sun Belt Conference - and as my colleague Greg Sankey of the Southeastern Conference has stated - I too support the Arkansas State Senate’s exemption in Senate Bill 724 that would prevent firearms from being allowed inside publicly funded stadiums and arenas in the State of Arkansas.”
The Southeastern Conference, where the University of Arkansas is a member, previously expressed concerns as well.
"The University of Arkansas is a valued member of the Southeastern Conference and has a long history of working with public safety officials to provide a safe environment for intercollegiate athletic competition," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement issued Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala. "It is our desire to see athletic events and sports venues exempted from HB 1249. Given the intense atmosphere surrounding athletic events, adding weapons increases safety concerns and could negatively impact the intercollegiate athletics program at the University of Arkansas in several ways, including scheduling, officiating, recruiting and attendance. HB 1249 creates concerns for the Southeastern Conference and its member institutions. It remains our collective desire to provide a safe environment for student-athletes, coaches, officials and fans, and will continue to closely monitor the status of this legislation."