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University of Texas to rename football field for Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams

Texas also said it will erect a statue of Julius Whittier, who became the first black player to letter for the Longhorns in 1970, at the school's Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. File Photo by Philip Lange/Shutterstock
Texas also said it will erect a statue of Julius Whittier, who became the first black player to letter for the Longhorns in 1970, at the school's Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. File Photo by Philip Lange/Shutterstock

July 13 (UPI) -- A month after football players at the University of Texas requested numerous changes be made on campus, the school has responded with a sweeping plan to "redefine campus symbolism," including the renaming of its football field.

At the school's Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Texas will erect a statue of Julius Whittier, who in 1970 became the first black player to letter for the Longhorns.

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The university also will rename Joe Jamail Field at the stadium in honor of Texas' two Heisman Trophy winners -- running backs Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams -- at the request of the family of the late Jamail, who was a prominent booster at the school.

"For countless days as young football players and upon being inducted to the Hall of Fame, Ricky and I have stood on this iconic field for many important points of our lives," Campbell said in a joint statement with Williams. "We never would have envisioned this historic site would one day bear our names.

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"The symbolism of this honor transcends the recognition of the Heisman Trophies we received. It extends to all students, but specifically black athletes, who continue to work to define our collective motto, 'Winning with Integrity.' Ricky and I are humbled by this honor."

Texas interim president Jay Hartzell announced the changes in a letter to the community Monday. In the letter, he listed a set of diversity initiatives that included "reconsidering how to best reflect the university's values, both in the symbols and names on campus and in the openness with which UT tells its history."

"The Eyes of Texas," which is sung before and after every football game, will remain, but the university said it will be "open and transparent" and teach about the song's origins -- which were in a minstrel show featuring performers in blackface in 1903.

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The letter was in response to a June 12 statement from Longhorns football players. The players requested the removal of "The Eyes of Texas" as the school song, the renaming of four campus buildings that are named after Confederate or racist figures, more diverse statues by people of color and the renaming of part of the team's stadium.

"During this past month, I have listened to scores of students," Hartzell said in the school's letter. "I went into these conversations understanding that UT has worked hard to become a more diverse and welcoming place.

"I came out of them realizing there is still more work to do -- and this starts and ends by creating an environment in which students are fully supported before, during and after their time at UT."

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The school said the timeline for the changes around campus will be disclosed at a later date.

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