Oregon, Oregon State discontinue ‘Civil War’ nickname for college sports rivalry

School officials at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University said Friday they will no longer use “Civil War” to describe rivalry games between their college football teams and other athletic programs.

The decision was made after discussions between university officials and current and former student-athletes, the schools said. The change will take effect immediately for the 2020-21 academic school year.

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“Changing this name is overdue as it represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery,” OSU President Ed Ray said in a statement. “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.”

The Oregon State Beavers and Oregon Ducks are tentatively scheduled to play the 124th annual edition of their college football rivalry game on Nov. 28. The status of the upcoming college football season is in doubt due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The joint decision comes as universities around the country take steps to address concerns about racial insensitivity and inequality. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last month prompted nationwide protests against racism.

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The University of Florida announced earlier this month that it would no longer allow the “Gator Bait” fight song at its athletic events due to “horrific historic racist imagery” associated with the phrase.

Additionally, the NCAA updated its policy on the Confederate flag to ban any championship events from taking place in states where it is still flown. Mississippi is the only state currently impacted by the policy change.

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