Well, shit. Where do we start?
Earlier this week, we reported on the ongoing saga at the University of Texas—and by “ongoing saga,” I’m referring to the racist fight song, “The Eyes of Texas,” that the school refuses to leave in the past along with the Atari 2600, Ginuwine’s relevance, and life before the coronavirus.
But first a bit of context, courtesy of yours truly:
“The Eyes of Texas” became a hot-button topic in the immediate aftermath of the officer-related death of George Floyd. Students at the school took issue with the song’s origins—it was inspired by Confederate general Robert E. Lee and made its debut in 1903 during campus minstrel shows performed by white students in blackface—and soon after, both student-athletes and school band members protested and took action. The Texas marching band refused to play it during the Longhorns’ final two home games.
And how did the school respond? By blaring the song over the loudspeakers instead and issuing statements like this:
“‘The Eyes of Texas’ has been UT Austin’s official school song for almost 120 years. It has been performed at most official events—celebratory or solemn—and sung by proud alumni and students for generations as a common bond of the UT family.
“It is a longstanding symbol of The University’s academic and athletic achievements in its pursuit of excellence.”
Months of protests and petitions would ensue, and this standoff would only become more and more hostile as students dug their heels in the sand. But because adherents of white supremacy always feel some kind of way about people touching their toys, in their efforts to nip the entire situation in the bud, wealthy donors then flooded school officials with hundreds of emails demanding that the school publicly support the song or else.
Here’s an example, per the Texas Tribune:
“The Eyes of Texas is non-negotiable,” wrote another graduate who said they’ve had season tickets since 1990 and whose name was redacted by the university. “If it is not kept and fully embraced, I will not be donating any additional money to athletics or the university or attending any events.”
And now, the Texas Tribune reports that in order to appease these bigoted assholes and their deep pockets, school officials forced players to remain on the field as “The Eyes” played. These same officials openly referenced the emails sent from donors and told players that should they continue to protest the school’s racist fight song, that it could adversely affect their ability to find employment after they graduate. Because, of course, this is exactly how white supremacy works.
Former defensive back Caden Sterns confirmed this as fact Monday on Twitter.
“My teammates and I got threatened by some alumni that we would have to find jobs outside of Texas if we didn’t participate,” he tweeted.
The school’s athletic director, Chris Del Conte, denies players were ever forced to stay on the field or that donors or alumni had threatened to deny student-athletes job opportunities, but junior linebacker DeMarvion Overshown calls bullshit.
“They said y’all don’t have to sing it. But y’all have to stay on the field. Y’all have to go over there and at least show fans appreciation for coming out and watching you guys play,” junior linebacker DeMarvion Overshown told the Tribune.
He continued, “It was really eye-opening. These are some high-power people that come to see you play and they can keep you from getting a job in the state of Texas. It was shocking that they said that. To this day I still think back to the moment. They really used that as a threat to get us to try to do what they wanted us to do.”
Another player, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said it was Del Conte and former head coach Tom Herman who told players that donors were upset and threatening to rescind donations to the school.
“He kept saying these guys provide this for you,” the second player said. “He was mentioning, ‘We have donors talking about pulling out money from the south end zone [stadium addition project], stopping their donations.’”
Del Conte, of course, insists that none of the above ever occurred.
“I never said this, nor would I say this to a student-athlete, and I’ve never heard it from any donors or alumni,” Del Conte told the Tribune. “My message has consistently been about unity. I’m disappointed if anything anyone else said to our student-athletes caused them to feel this way.”
This situation will only get far worse before it ever gets better.