Plenty of schools, coaches and athletes have spoken out against racial injustices over the past couple of weeks following George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis. But as some of those statements on social media begin to dissipate, college football players continue to demand action and accountability from superiors. Athletes across multiple sports at the University of Texas released a statement through social media on Friday requesting a series of changes that would significantly alter some of the traditions on campus as well as build more awareness of black history at the school.
"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," the statement said, "but to go beyond this by taking action to make Texas more comfortable and inclusive for the black athletes and black community that has so fervently supported this program."
The letter, unsigned but released "on behalf o the UT student-athletes", asks that the following issues be addressed "through the implementation or a plan for implementation at the start of the fall semester."
- Renaming several buildings on campus including: Robert Lee Moore Hall, Painter Hall, Littlefield Hall and James Hogg Auditorium
- Replacing campus statues with other, more diverse ones created by people of color
- The building of a permanent black athlete history exhibit to the UT athletics Hall of Fame
- Donating 0.5 percent of the athletics department's annual earnings to "black organizations and the BLM movement"
- Renaming an area of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium after Julius Whittier, the first black player at UT
- Replacing "The Eyes of Texas" as the school's alma mater with "a new song without racist undertones" while lifting the requirement for players to sing the song after games
The statement adds that while players will continue to practice and prepare for the upcoming season, "without an official commitment from the university we will not be participating in the recruiting of incoming players or donor-related events." Among the Texas football players to share the statement was receiver Brennan Eagles, who just this month tweeted he wouldn't "play another snap" after the events of the past two weeks.
✊🏾 “What starts here changes the world” #WeAreOne pic.twitter.com/pimHqdhFSs— 🦅 (@_BrennanEagles_) June 12, 2020
Most of the requests -- and there are more than the ones listed above -- are necessary and easy enough to implement. Just this week, Clemson renamed the John C. Calhoun Honors College to Clemson University Honors College following a petition. The one that will ruffle the most feathers is the change to the "Eyes of Texas", a song that dates back to the early 1900s to a minstrel show which featured performers in black face.
Texas has its own bleak history with the black community. Of the more notable examples, the Longhorns football team did not integrate until 1970. But Texas players and coach Tom Herman have been vocal in recent weeks. Speaking with the Austin American-Statesman, Herman said "There's a double standard maybe a little bit. We're going to pack 100,000 people into DKR and millions watch on TV that are predominantly white — not all of them certainly, but most of 'em white. We're gonna cheer when they score touchdowns, and we're gonna hug our buddy when they get sacks or an interception.But we gonna let them date our daughter? Are we going to hire them in a position of power in our company? That's the question I have for America. You can't have it both ways."