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Oregon, Oregon State End 'Civil War' Rivalry Reference

Paul Steinbach

As monuments honoring America's Civil War, and the Confederacy in particular, continue to topple in certain parts of the country, two schools about as geographically removed from that conflict as possible have decided that they, too, will drop any Civil War reference from their longstanding rivalry.

The athletic departments of the University of Oregon and Oregon State University have mutually agreed to no longer refer to athletic competition between the two schools as “Civil War.”

This decision, announced Friday by both schools, is effective immediately and includes all athletic competitions in the 2020-21 academic year and in the years ahead, according to The Register-Guard in Eugene. Oregon and Oregon State are hoping to renew their football rivalry for the 124th time Nov. 28.

Statues with racist roots are coming down, as Black Lives Matter protests continue in the wake of recent killings of African-Americans by police.

As reported by The Register-Guard, former Oregon star quarterback Dennis Dixon, after receiving a call about the idea from his friend, Teresa Tran, consulted with teammates Garren Strong and Jonathan Stewart before pitching the idea to current Ducks and athletic department leadership.

“I just wanted to get their advice. They were both sold on it. The one thing they both told me was in order for this to come into fruition, we have got to get the current players, as well as the ADs and the vice presidents, to buy in,” Dixon said in a video posted on Twitter by Oregon. “I am happy to see two universities coming together to drive change and everlasting change. I’m excited to be part of this change.”

Oregon athletics director Rob Mullens thanked Dixon for “being the catalyst for change” and thanked current players for their “leadership and input” in the process.

“We must all recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War,” Mullens said in a statement. ” This mutual decision is in the best interests of both schools, and I would like to thank Scott Barnes for his diligence as we worked through this process.

“We look forward to our continued and fierce in-state rivalry with Oregon State in all sports.”

The Oregon-Oregon State series holds the collegiate record for the most men’s basketball games played with 354, and the football rivalry ranks fifth nationally in terms of total games played.

“Changing this name is overdue as it represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery,” OSU president Ed Ray said. “While not intended as reference to the actual Civil War, OSU sports competition should not provide any misconstrued reference to this divisive episode in American history. That we did not act before to change the name was a mistake. We do so now, along with other important actions to advance equal opportunity and justice for all and in recognition that Black Lives Matter.”

OSU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, made up of current student-athletes from every intercollegiate sports program, supports removing Civil War references from the series. Former Beaver standouts Steven Jackson and Ken Simonton are among prominent alumni who have also expressed approval and will be a part of the renaming process of the rivalry, The Register-Guard reported.

“A number of student-athletes, alumni and friends of Oregon State University have questioned the use of the term Civil War in our rivalry series in recent years,” said Oregon State athletics director Scott Barnes. “We initiated discussions with our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee about the possibility of eliminating the name ‘Civil War’ from our series and with their leadership, we are moving forward.

“We will embrace members of the university community, alumni, student-athletes and friends of Oregon State to assist in a collaborative process with the University of Oregon to consider other names for this historic rivalry.”

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