- University of Texas football players were forced to stand on the field during the playing of the school’s controversial spirit song, “The Eyes of Texas.”
- Alumni donors threatened to pull money from the school when players didn’t stand on the field for a song after a game against Oklahoma.
- The song has ties to slavery and mimics a quote from Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
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Two University of Texas football players have come forward and revealed that the school’s athletic officials told the team that all players must stand on the field for the postgame singalong of “The Eyes of Texas,” according to Kate McGee of The Texas Tribune.
On Monday, it was revealed that alumni donors threatened to pull money from the school after all-but-one player refused to stand on the field during the singalong after the team’s loss to Oklahoma. The protests are due to the song’s controversial past, as it mimics a quote from former confederate general Robert E. Lee and was performed by white singers in blackface multiple times in the school’s history.
After the Oklahoma game, athletic officials met with the players and expressed concern over the reaction to the protest. Officials even referenced an email from one alumni claiming that the protests will impact the players’ employment chances after graduating.
“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 McGee. “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.”
Junior defensive back Caden Sterns backed up Overshown’s claim in a tweet.
—Caden Sterns (@CSterns_7) March 1, 2021
Overshown is one of the team’s more outspoken opponents of the song. He boycotted practice in July as protest, according to McGee, but returned after the university announced a series of changes in response to calls from students about improving racial equality on campus.
—Kate McGee (@McGeeReports) March 3, 2021
Athletic director Chris Del Conte disputed the claims that players were forced to stand during the song and said he had not heard of alumni threatening job opportunities, according to McGee.
“I never said this, nor would I say this to a student-athlete, and I’ve never heard it from any donors or alumni. 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. That concerns me,” Del Conte said. “I’ve talked to several student-athletes about this and am happy to talk to anyone to let them know that this is not true. I’ve only seen our alumni work to support our student-athletes.”
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