Texas football players and other student-athletes at the university are getting some of the changes they wanted, but not all.
In June, Longhorns wide receiver Brennan Eagles kicked up quite the kerfuffle by proclaiming, amidst police brutality and racial injustice, “I’ll be [damned] if you think I’ll play another snap with the platform I have that [affects the] majority of people that contribute to the sport who don’t actually play.” Shortly thereafter, Texas student-athletes, including football players, took to social media en masse to spread their message: “We aim to hold the athletic department and university to a higher standard by not only asking them to keep their promise of condemning racism on our campus, but to go beyond this by taking action to make Texas more comfortable and inclusive for the black athletes and the black community that has so fervently supported this program.”
In that vein, the student-athletes began asking to have several issues addressed. Among them: renaming several buildings on campus, including James Hogg Auditorium; “replacement of statues with more diverse statues on campus designed by artists/sculptors who are people of color”; the UT Athletic Department donating .5% of its annual earnings to black organizations and the Black Lives Matter movement; and replacing “The Eyes of Texas with a new song without racist undertones.”
The suggested change that brought the most headlines, of course, was getting rid of “The Eyes of Texas.” Monday afternoon, UT announced that song will remain as part of the university experience. The school noted, though, that it will “acknowledge and teach about all aspects of the origins” of the song. From today’s release:
“The Eyes of Texas,” in its current form, will continue to be our alma mater. Aspects of its origin, whether previously widely known or unknown, have created a rift in how the song is understood and celebrated, and that must be fixed. It is my belief that we can effectively reclaim and redefine what this song stands for by first owning and acknowledging its history in a way that is open and transparent.
Together, we have the power to define what the Eyes of Texas expect of us, what they demand of us, and what standard they hold us to now. “The Eyes of Texas” should not only unite us, but hold all of us accountable to our institution’s core values. But we first must own the history. Only then can we reimagine its future, and I look forward to partnering with our campus community to do just that.
A couple of other changes are directly related to the Texas football program.
- Erect a statue for Julius Whittier, the Longhorns’ first Black football letterman, at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.
- At the suggestion of the Jamail family, rename Joe Jamail Field at the stadium in honor of Texas’ two great Heisman Trophy winners, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams, two Longhorn legends with a record of commitment to the university.
For all the changes the university is committed to making, with a significant focus on the academic side as far as students and faculty are concerned, click HERE.