The Texas Cowboys were suspended for six years. Here’s everything you need to know.

Lisa Nhan

With the recent news of the Texas Cowboys six-year suspension, there are a lot of questions about what this means for the future of the Cowboys and what it means for the rest of the campus community. Here is a compiled list of questions the Daily Texan is consistently getting. 

Who will fire Smokey the Cannon at football games now? 

We don’t know yet, and it may take a while to find out as the Cowboys still have until April 10 to accept, appeal or request a formal hearing. According to J.B. Bird, University Media Relations Director, Smokey the Cannon is owned by the Texas Cowboys Alumni Association. However, Texas Athletics is in charge of “calling the shots” during any football game. The two groups will have to work together to reach a joint decision, but nothing can happen on the field without the approval of Texas Athletics. Bird said though the Silver Spurs had it during the last suspension, it does not mean they will have it again. The Spurs did not respond to requests for comment when asked if they will fire the cannon. 

Has the University (or anyone else) addressed what’s different this time? What is this six-year suspension going to do that the five-year suspension couldn’t?- From Sarah Jane Ross during our AMA

This is a really complex question where the answers really differ on who you ask. 

Let’s start with the University’s opinion. Bird said the University recognizes, as said in the final investigation report, that the Cowboys have shown “a disturbing, long-standing pattern of behavior that directly
endangers the health and safety of University of Texas at Austin community members.” As a result, stricter sanctions by the University have been put in place, in addition to the additional year, with the intent of breaking this cycle. Upon returning to campus, new members would be required to create a permanent Risk Management position on their executive board, create a safety and risk management plan to be updated annually, create and share a presentation on Nicky Cumberland and Gabe Higgins (the two Cowboys pledges who have passed) and read Gabe’s mother’s memoir, “The Cowboy’s Secret” to understand the grief and loss she, and so many others, experienced as a result of hazing. 

“(UT) is an educational institution. We’re here to try to help people be the best versions of themselves and educate them,” Bird said. “After that period of time, their organization is going to have completely new membership, they’ll be coming into this new sanction regime … (the sanctions) will give members moving forward every incentive and opportunity to run the organization in a better way.”

However, in a recent statement, Shawn Cumberland, Nicky’s father, said he fears “that upon returning from the six-year expulsion, nothing will have changed (again)” after reading the Texas Cowboys Alumni Association’s public statement after the sanction. 

What will happen to the Texas Cowboys Sweethearts? Are they allowed to be active during the Cowboy’s suspensions?


They will not be allowed to be active during the suspension as the Sweethearts are considered members of Cowboys, according to Bird. 

What happens if the Texas Cowboys choose to appeal?

If the Cowboys appeal the sanctions, they will have to make a formal written appeal to the Vice President for Student Affairs. The Vice President will then delegate review of the appeal to a designated Appellate Officer. 

What does the report mean by “coerced or forced”? What is the difference, from the perspective of Student Conduct?

“Coerced behavior could involve a power differential, bullying, quid pro quo, or peer pressure, whereas forced behavior involves physical force or a threat of harm for not complying,” Bird said in an email. 

Will students still be allowed to wear Texas Cowboys merchandise? 

Yes, according to Bird in an email. 

Has anyone in the administration suggested that part of solving the problem of hazing in the Texas Cowboys when they return is to require that they allow women to join? 

The Texas Cowboys do have The Texas Cowboys Sweethearts who are considered a part of their student organization. Additionally, the Cumberlands suggested making the Cowboys a co-ed organization (and eliminating the concept of Sweethearts and having the women act in the same roles as the men) in their conversations with the University.