AUSTIN, Texas - Monday, at the start of a press conference following the University of Texas’ painful quadruple overtime defeat to Oklahoma University, Texas Longhorns Head Coach Tom Herman addressed "The Eyes of Texas."
"The Eyes of Texas" is the university’s alma mater song, and is often regarded as its "unofficial" fight song.
After Saturday's UT-OU game, few UT players remained on the field as the song played, with their "horns up" for fans.
"I do believe it’s important that we thank and acknowledge our fans after a hard-fought game. Sam Ehlinger and some of the team did join me in standing with the fans who had cheered us so hard," said Herman.
The poor showing on the field was about more than a tough loss. "The Eyes of Texas" has long been criticized for racial undertones.
In June dozens of UT student-athletes released a statement calling on university athletics to address racial injustice with a number of actions -- including replacing "The Eyes of Texas."
"We will continue to encourage participation for all of those that are comfortable. That said, some members of our program have concerns and aren’t comfortable participating at this time and I respect that as well," said Herman on Monday.
Currently, the song is played at games using a recording -- as the Longhorn band is not playing due to COVID-19. In August 2020, FOX 7 Austin was told some band members will not play the song upon their return.
"Even if it's being conducted or we're told to play it I won't be, and I'm sure that's the case for many others," said Judson Hayden in August. Hayden is a Longhorn Band member, and founding member of the LHBlacks, a new organization within the band committed to amplifying Black voices.
"This is an issue we will continue to have meaningful conversations about and work through as campus committee gathers more information," said Herman.