Alumni of the University of Texas are threatening to cut off their donations after questions surrounding the optics of the school’s fight song and post game traditions have changed.
The school’s alma mater song “The Eyes of Texas” has Confederate origins. The title is a nod to a saying attributed to Confederate Army Commander Robert E. Lee and historically, the song was performed at 20th century minstrel shows with entertainers in blackface, reports CBS Sports.
According to public records obtained by the Texas Tribune, many wealthy donors are angry with players who don’t participate in the singing of it post game.
Emails were sent to Texas president Jay Hartzell demanding that the school stand up to “cancel culture” or they will no longer receive donations from some of their wealthiest 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 This could very easily be rescinded if things don’t drastically change around here,” one unnamed donor wrote back in October. “Has everyone become oblivious of who supports athletics??”
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The anger stems from a photo that showed Longhorns 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.
Other photos, however, of the game – a quadruple overtime loss to Oklahoma in 2020 – show other players joining 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.”
Other alumni threatened to cancel their season tickets and boycott games if the song doesn’t remain part of the school’s tradition, leading to a high level of concern from university 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 in a message to a group of administrators. “This is not hyperbole or exaggeration. Real damage is being done every day by the ongoing silence.”