The controversy surrounding "The Eyes of Texas" continued on Wednesday, as the Texas Tribune published another troubling story about it and Texas' football program. According to the report, Longhorns players were forced to remain on the field during the postgame playing of the song because donors and alumni were upset by athletes leaving the field and refusing to take part in the tradition.
Here's more from the article:
"University of Texas athletic officials in October told Longhorn football players they had to remain on the field postgame for “The Eyes of Texas” singalong with fans because donors were upset by athletes protesting the game day tradition, two Longhorn football players told The Texas Tribune."
Students and some athletes had previously chosen not to participate in the postgame ritual due to the song's racist past. Its origins became an issue again over the summer as racial and social justice protests spread across the country and awareness heightened.
The Tribune report continued:
"The football players said athletics officials, in a meeting with the players after the Oklahoma game, referenced emails from donors who said the protests could impact their job prospects after graduating. At least one other player, former defensive linebacker Caden Sterns, made a similar claim in a tweet on Monday but declined to be interviewed."
Multiple players confirmed the meeting and pointed to athletic director Chris Del Conte as the point person. Del Conte and then-head coach Tom Herman were both accused of telling players donors would pull their financial support if the entire team didn't didn't participate in the tradition. Del Conte denies telling the athletes any such thing.
On Monday, the Tribune published an article showing emails from donors and alumni ripping players and students for protesting the song, and claiming they would pull their financial support if the ritual wasn't honored.
Sterns tweeted that he and fellow teammates were told by donors that if they boycotted the song they would have to look for work outside of Texas in the future.
This controversy isn't going away any time soon. It seems patently ridiculous for the university to force student athletes to participate in a ceremony they don't want to be involved with. Yet, somehow, new head coach Steve Sarkisian, donors and the university officials appear to be taking that stance.
This likely won't end well.