Ever since the social justices protests last summer, “The Eyes of Texas” has been a target for some around the University of Texas.
Last summer, 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.
After Texas lost to Oklahoma last season Sam Ehlinger was the lone player to stand for the song after the game ended. That set off a new bunch of drama around the song.
Well a new 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.”
The report went on to add that alumni and donors threatened to cancel season tickets, end donations and boycott games. They complained that President Hartzell was not forcefully defending the song and school traditions enough, accusing him of cowing to political correctness.
Already, Steve Sarkisian has had to address it with media members, like when he talked about “The Eyes of Texas” controversy on CBS Sports Radio, saying in part, “We’ll have a lot of candid conversations with our players. After all those discussions are done, we’ll be a unified team in whatever issue comes up, positive or negative.“
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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