House panel rejects bill to force UA-ASU football game


LITTLE ROCK — A legislative panel Wednesday punted a measure to force a gridiron match-up between the state’s two largest universities.

On a voice vote, the House Rules Committee rejected House Bill 2274, which would mandate at least one charity football game between the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University.

Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, introduced the measure with great fanfare earlier this month, complete with a self-financed website to let football fans express their wishes on a Razorkbacks-Red Wolves match-up for charity. Mayberry said Wednesday that about 52 percent of respondents said they favored the idea.

“A game against an in-state opponent I believe would create a tremendous amount of enthusiasm throughout the state of Arkansas, and it could benefit a good cause,” he said.

But several members of the panel said it was not the General Assembly’s role to arrange football match-ups. Some also questioned whether the bill conflicted with Amendment 33 to the Arkansas Constitution, which states that the powers of certain boards and commissions, including the boards of institutions of higher learning, shall not be abolished or transferred.

“I don’t know that we should be legislating athletics,” said Rep. Stephanie Malone, R-Fort Smith, the committee’s chairman.

Mayberry said later he was not surprised with the result. He said he ran the bill despite strong opposition because tens of thousands of Arkansans said in the online poll that they wanted the game.

He said he would drop the proposal.