The drama around the Texas Longhorns and “The Eyes of Texas” resurfaced on Monday when a Texas Tribune piece highlighted emails from alumni threatening to stop donations if the University “cancelled” the song.
With the controversy back in the news, former Texas Longhorns defensive back Caden Sterns, who declared for the NFL Draft after the 2020 season, said 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.”
The controversy around “The Eyes of Texas” have been going on since the social justice protests from the summer of 2020.
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… 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.
Then on Monday, the report from The Texas Tribune highlighted the hundreds of e-mails from angry donors. According to the report, “From June to late October, over 70% of the nearly 300 people who emailed Hartzell’s office about “The Eyes” demanded the school keep playing it. Around 75 people in emails explicitly threatened to stop supporting the school financially, calling on the university to take a heavier hand with students and athletes they believed were disrespecting university tradition by protesting it.”
Also in the report came this letter from Kent Kostka, the President of the Longhorn Alumni Band Charitable Fund Board of Trustees, “[Alumni] are pulling planned gifts, canceling donations, walking away from causes and programs that have been their passion for years, even decades and turning away in disgust. Last night one texted me at 1:00 am, trying to find a way to revoke a 7-figure donation.”
To potentially add fuel to this fire is that later this month, a university committee formed to document the song’s history is expected to release its highly anticipated report, likely reigniting the debate within the school community.
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