PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon State University and the University of Oregon will no longer use “Civil War” to reference rivalry games in any sport, both universities announced Friday.
UO and OSU officials made the decision after receiving input from current and former athletes from both schools.
“Changing this name is overdue as it represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery. 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,” said OSU President Edward Ray in a letter posted on OSU’s website.
“In recent years, some students, faculty, alumni, student-athletes, OSU stakeholders and community members have questioned the appropriateness of this term. 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,” Ray said.
UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens praised former Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon for being a catalyst for change.
“We must all recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War,” said Mullens.
The annual rivalry games between the two schools in football, basketball and other sports have been known as the Civil War since the 1930s.
Ray said OSU and the UO will collaborate in the coming months to consider a more appropriate name for the rivalry between the two universities. They will involve students, staff, alumni, donors and sponsors in their decision.
“We need to make this change to align the words and symbols we use around athletic endeavors with our shared campus values of equity and inclusivity,” said UO President Michael Schill. “While the name of our annual game might change, it will absolutely continue to be one of the great rivalries in college sports.”