In a joint announcement Friday, the schools said they made the decision after conversations with university officials and current and former student-athletes at both schools.
“Changing this name is overdue as it represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery,” Oregon State 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.”
Schools across the country are reviewing long-held traditions, school cheers, stadium names, building names and on-campus statues in the wake of protests surrounding George Floyd’s death as a call to action to address racial injustice.
Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens pointed to former Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon as being a catalyst for change when he asked whether the term should continue to be used.
“We must all recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War,” Mullens said. “This mutual decision is in the best interests of both schools, and I would like to thank [Oregon State athletic director] 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 rivalry ranks fifth in college football for the most games played. The Oregon–Oregon State series holds the collegiate record for the most men’s basketball games played with 354.