Texas athletes call on UT-Austin to rename buildings, drop ‘The Eyes of Texas’ as school song

Stephen Wagner

One week after The University of Texas football team marched to the Texas Capitol in honor of George Floyd, several UT student-athletes are calling on the University and athletics programs to address racial injustice.

“The recent events across the country regarding racial injustice have brought to light the systemic racism that has always been prevalent in our country as well as the racism that has historically plagued our campus,” the athletes said in a statement Friday, first tweeted by several UT student-athletes at 2:00 p.m.

More than two dozen Longhorn student-athletes tweeted the statement, including junior Caden Sterns (football), junior Jonathan Jones (track & field), senior Jase Febres (basketball) and sophomore Skylar Fields (volleyball). Individual players declined to comment to the media.

The athletes requested the University rename buildings on campus named after Confederate or racist figures, educate incoming freshmen on the history of racism on campus and drop “The Eyes of Texas,” which was originally performed at a minstrel show, as the school song.

The athletes also called for outreach programs from the University for inner cities in Texas, more statues on campus designed by people of color and a permanent Black athletic history exhibit in the Texas Athletics Hall of Fame.

The athletes said they are asking both the athletic department and University to keep their promise of condemning racism on campus, in addition to taking action that would make UT more comfortable and inclusive for the Black community.

“As ambassadors, it is our duty to utilize our voice and role as leaders in the community to push for change to the benefit of the entire UT community,” the athletes said in the statement. “We, as student-athletes, and collectively as The University of Texas Longhorn football team, are aware that we are an athletic department made up of many Black athletes, and believe that it is time we become active on our campus.”

The football student-athletes said in the statement they will continue to participate in all required team activities in preparation of the upcoming season but will not take part in the recruiting of incoming players or other alumni events “without an official commitment from the University.” 

The athletes officially requested the following in the statement:

Campus Actions

  • The renaming of Robert Lee Moore Hall, Painter Hall and Littlefield Hall, to include the patio cafe and fountain.

  • The renaming of James Hogg Auditorium, to include the removal of the James Hogg statue.

  • The addition of diverse statues on campus designed by artists and sculptors who are people of color.

  • Modules catered toward incoming freshmen that discuss the history of racism on campus and provide education on racial injustice.

  • An outreach program for Texas inner cities (Austin, Dallas and Houston).

Athletics Actions

  • Increased diversity in the Texas Athletics Hall of Fame, to include a permanent Black athletic history exhibit.
  • Athletics donating 0.5% of its annual earnings to Black organizations and Black Lives Matter movements.
  • Rename some part of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium after Julius Whittier, UT’s first Black football player.

Changes regarding the entire Black community at UT

  • Removing “The Eyes of Texas” as the school song, not requiring athletes to sing it and arranging for a new song to be written in its place.

Myah Taylor contributed to this report.