Miami head coach Randy Shannon has banned his players from owning guns and if they are found out possess a gun they will be dismissed from the team. The ban is a reaction to a couple of gun incident one being the death of Bryan Pita and the other a case where a Miami player returned fire at an assailant who shot at his teammate. Ken Tysiac at the Observer polled 13 players at ACC Kickoff and found them split on whether the ban was a good idea or not.
On one level the ban is not necessary for anyone living on a college campus since guns are already forbidden. Beyond that the question is whether a player living off campus should be permitted to own a gun. Butch Davis is among those who says on campus it is not permitted but if a player is at home with his family and goes hunting then he should be permitted to have a gun. In Shannon’s case, he most likely not worrying about kids hunting for deer on Christmas break but rather gun crimes which occur in an urban environment like Miami.
The overarching issue for me is two fold: The first is to what extent college coaches can infringe upon certain freedoms afforded to players as citizens by the laws of our nation. It could be argued that players have made a commitment to be on the team and entailed in that commitment are certain team rules which must be followed. In that respect this ban is no different than a coach setting forth a ban on players riding in open vehicle such as a motorcycle or an ATV. The second aspect of the issue is to what extent is this a reverse on the NCAA axiom that all student athletes should be treated in the same manner as the rest of the student population. If students living off campus can have a gun then why not student athletes? That being said, as much as the NCAA attempts to level the playing field between players and the general population it is undeniable that student athletes are different. They are on an athletic team which carries with it the aforementioned rules and responsibilities. So while a regular student might feel like he can skip classes that option is not open to a student athlete per team rules.
Based on my experience as a student athlete I would say that if a coach feels the need to have a certain rule which is not overtly burdensome to the student athlete then that is part of the commitment you make in being on that team. In this case I would say it is probably a sensible precaution to tell players that while they are at school guns are forbidden. Given the commitment of school and the team, I am not sure what use a player living off campus would have for a gun. Which is probably what Shannon was thinking when he instituted the rule.