Big 12 News

Texas Band Won’t be at Baylor Game Due to ‘Eyes of Texas’ Controversy

NCAA Football: Texas Spring Game

Don’t expect to see the Texas Longhorns band on Saturday against Baylor. According to a message to band members obtained by University of Texas student publication “The Daily Texan”, the Longhorn Band will reportedly not attend the football game due to the controversy surrounding “The Eyes of Texas”.

The message sent to band members reportedly stated that after an internal survey was given asking whether members would play “The Eyes of Texas,” it was revealed that there was a lack of  “necessary instrumentation.”

“Based on (survey responses), we do not have the necessary instrumentation, so we will not participate in Saturday’s game,” Longhorn Band director Scott Hanna told The Daily Texan.

KVUE TV reached out to the University of Texas for comment and were told the following: “We are continuing to work with students in the Longhorn Band to maintain the musical traditions of The University of Texas, including ‘The Eyes of Texas.’”

 

You can read into that as you’d like. But clearly, the controversy surrounding “The Eyes of Texas” isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Over the summer, following social justice protests, the University of Texas decided to make some changes, but ultimately did keep “The Eyes of Texas”.

The changes included renaming the field for Black Heisman Trophy winners Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams, plus Julius Whittier, the first Black football letterman at the school, who will be getting a statue at the stadium.

At the time, interim UT president Jay Hartzell did address the controversy surrounding “The Eyes of Texas” and its history, saying, “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.”

The song was performed at minstrel shows by performers in blackface during the early 1900s. Former Texas defensive lineman Sam Acho had tweeted that “most Black players hated singing that song.”

Since the season has started, the song has been a source of contention as well.

Following Texas loss to OU in the Red River Rivalry, Sam Ehlinger was one of just a couple of players to stay on the field for “The Eyes of Texas”. That led to head coach Tom Herman addressing the situation on Monday. Herman said at the time that he players will be “encouraged” to stick around for the postgame playing of “The Eyes of Texas.”

 

But just a few days later, athletic director Chris Del Conte said it would be “expected” not just “encouraged” for players to stand together for “The Eyes of Texas”.

And now, the drama has another wrinkle in it courtesy of the marching band. What is the next move for Chris Del Conte? How does he hold the feet to the fire of the Longhorn Band? And what affect does that have in any decision by Tom Herman’s players?

This issue has spiraled well beyond what anyone at UT imagined. And it doesn’t appear like it’s going anywhere.

The Longhorns are set to host the Baylor Bears on Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. kick off in Austin.

UPDATE:

One day after the Longhorns band said it won’t be playing the song this weekend, President Jay Hartzell said that it will be played this weekend.

“The Eyes of Texas will be played this weekend as it has been throughout this season — and it will continue to be played at future games and events. While we would love the band to be with our fans at all our games, we never planned for them to perform live this Saturday. We knew this summer that, as we make our campus a more welcoming place, we would face many hard conversations. I remain truly optimistic that we will find ways to join together around our songs, which has been so positive for so many Longhorns over the past 120 years,” Hartzell said.

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