The Civil War is no more, at least in terms of the Oregon State-Oregon college sports rivalry.
Officials at Oregon State University and the University of Oregon announced Friday that, effective immediately, the term “Civil War” will no longer be used in connection with athletic competition between the two schools.
“Changing this name is overdue as it represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery,” said OSU President Ed Ray in a release from the school. “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.”
Added OSU Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes in a release: “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. We initiated discussions with our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) 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.”
OSU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, made up of current student-athletes from every intercollegiate sports program, supports removing Civil War from the series. Former Beavers football 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.
“I had the opportunity last week to meet with many student-athletes, and the pulse of the group was clear that we are in full support of renaming the Civil War,” said Joel Walker, OSU’s SAAC president and a current men’s soccer player.
“The group stood strong on the belief that if we want to create change within our university, conference and nation, that taking a stand will not only initiate change but hopefully will encourage other institutions to reflect on the history of the names and buildings on their campuses.”
The football series between Oregon State and Oregon is the fifth-most contested rivalry in the country in the Football Bowl Subdivision, with the 124th edition set for Nov. 28 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis. The two schools have competed in men’s basketball a record 354 times.
"Today's announcement is not only right but is a long time coming, and I wish to thank former Duck great Dennis Dixon for raising the question and being the catalyst for change," said Oregon Director of Athletics Rob Mullens.
"Thanks also to our current student-athletes for their leadership and input during this process. We must all recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War. 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."