The University of Texas has one of the most historic football programs in the United States.
However, many of the school’s wealthiest donors are angry with the controversy surrounding the alma mater song, “The Eyes of Texas,” which has Confederate origins. The Texas Tribune obtained public records that were published on Monday, and many of the alumni expressed anger at the situation. Some of the donors threatened to no longer contribute their money to the university if the situation isn’t fixed.
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Emails were sent to University of Texas president Jay Hartzell, and they demanded that the school stands up to the “cancel culture” or else they will no longer receive donations from some of their richest alumni.
“My wife and I have given an endowment in excess of $1 million to athletics. This could very easily be rescinded if things don’t drastically change around here,” one donor wrote back in October. His name wasn’t revealed by UT-Austin because open records laws protect certain donor identities. “Has everyone become oblivious of who supports athletics??”
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Many alumni were furious when a photo showed Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger as the only player showing pride in the school’s longtime tradition, when players and coaches stand for the song and hold up the “hook ’em horns” hand signal before and after games. The team had just lost in quadruple overtime to Oklahoma in the 2020 Red River Shootout. However, other photos revealed that other players joined Ehlinger on the field for the song.
“It is disgraceful to see the lack of unity and our fiercest competitor Sam Ehlinger standing nearly alone,” another donor wrote. “It is symbolic of the disarray of this football program which you inherited. The critical race theory garbage that has been embraced by the football program and the University is doing massive irreparable damage to our glorious institution and the country. It has got to stop.”
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Other alumni and donors also threatened to cancel their season tickets and boycott games if the song doesn’t remain a part of the university’s tradition, which has led to a high level of concern from the university’s fundraisers.
“[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,” President of the Longhorn Alumni Band Charitable Fund Board of Trustees Kent Kostka wrote to a group of administrators, including Hartzell. “This is not hyperbole or exaggeration. Real damage is being done every day by the ongoing silence.”
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Back in January when new head coach Steve Sarkisian was welcomed at his introductory press conference, he said that the song would remain a part of the culture with him in charge.
“I know this much, ‘The Eyes of Texas’ is our school song,” Sarkisian said at the time. “We’re going to sing that song. We’re going to sing that proudly.”