A meeting between Texas football players and officials in October last year came to light after the release of several e-mail names of donors supporting the intricate school song “Eyes of Texas.”
Two Texas players told Kate McGee of the Texas Tribune that athletics officials had told the team they should stay on the field for The Eyes of Texas with fans. Prior to the match, several donors were upset after players chose to miss the singles after the match, with some threatening to take financial contributions from the university on the issue.
During the meeting, officials said they were threatening angry donors that players could face difficult employment prospects if they continued to protest the song, which has racist roots as part of a minister̵
Single player account via Tribune:
“They said you shouldn’t sing it.” But you have to stay on the field. You have to go there and at least show your gratitude to the fans for going out and watching how you play, “junior backpacker DeMarvion Overshown said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
“It really opened my eyes,” Overshawn said. “These are some powerful people who come to see you play and can stop you from finding a job in Texas. It was shocking that they said that. To this day, I still go back to the moment. They really used this as a threat to make us try to do what they wanted us to do. “
Another unnamed player:
“He kept saying that these guys were providing for you. … He mentioned, “We have donors talking about withdrawing money from the southern end zone [stadium addition project], stopping their donations, “said the second player.
The unnamed player reportedly told the Tribune that former head coach Tom Herman and athletic director Chris Del Conte were the employees who passed the threats on to donors.
The allegations come two days after Caden Stern tweeted the same story on Twitter on Monday when donors’ emails went public.
My teammates and I were threatened by some alumni that we would have to find work outside of Texas if we didn’t participate. https://t.co/owWwHF50ri
– Caden Sterns (@ CSterns_7) March 1, 2021
Texas officials say they are not forcing players to sing “Eyes of Texas”
The existence of this meeting was already known; Del Conte himself discussed the meeting in October. However, Del Conte’s and Herman’s accounts differ significantly from those of the latter.
In a newsletter, Del Conte claims that he simply outlined his expectations for the team through Dallas Morning News:
“I want to clarify that I have had many conversations with our head coaches, outlining our expectations that the teams will show appreciation to our university, fans and supporters by standing together as a single group for the Eyes as we work on this issue.”
Herman also denied that his team had been given a “mandate” and that participation in the singalong was still voluntary.
No matter how it was played, the result was clear. The Texas players remained on the field for next week’s match against Baylor.
When he turned to the players’ last accounts, Del Conte again denied that a player had been forced to stay on the field:
“We just asked for their help – no one was forced or obliged to do so,” he said in a statement.
“I never said that, nor would I say that to a student athlete, and I have never heard it from donors or alumni. My message is constantly about unity. I’m disappointed if something someone else said to our student-athletes made them feel that way. That concerns me, “he said in an email statement. “I have talked to several student-athletes about this and I am happy to talk to everyone to know that this is not true. I have only seen our alumni work in support of our student-athletes. “
This back and forth is the latest episode of a saga that has been raging in Austin since last summer, when Texas athletes publicly demanded that the song be replaced after the murder of George Floyd. Then, as now, the request was met with a loud response from alumni and other Texas residents.
After all, Longhorns players openly miss singalong, leading to emails like the one posted by the Texas Tribune:
“It’s sad that it offends blacks. Like I said, before blacks are free and it’s time for them to move to another state where everything is in their favor.”
Texas denounced these emails as “several extremist views,” but it appears that the athletic staff involved may have responded by giving these extremists exactly what they wanted.
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