Texas Announces Longhorn Band Will Be Required to Play 'The Eyes of Texas'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2021

WACO, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 23:   The Texas Longhorns band performs in the first half at McLane Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It appears as if the University of Texas' Longhorn Band will play the controversial alma mater, "The Eyes of Texas," during the upcoming year.

Sabrina LeBoeuf of the Austin American-Statesman reported the school announced Longhorn Band members will be required to play it after the band did not perform at any football games during the 2020 campaign because so many students did not want to participate.

LeBoeuf noted the school will also form a new band in 2022 for those who do not want to play the song, although those students who participate in the Longhorn Band and Longhorn Pep Band will receive performance scholarships.

Rising seniors who elect to leave the Longhorn Band because they do not want to play the song can still retain their scholarships.

The song has been at the center of controversy in Texas of late, and a 24-person committee commissioned by school President Jay Hartzell released a 58-page report on its origins following an investigation.

Dave Wilson of ESPN reported in March that the investigation found the song's first public performance was likely done by performers in blackface during a minstrel show, although the committee said it was not written with racist intent.

The controversy carried over to the football team as well.

In March, former safety Caden Sterns said some Texas alumni threatened that players would not be able to find jobs inside the state if they did not participate in the postgame performance of the song:

Caden Sterns @CSterns_7

My teammates and I got threatened by some alumni that we would have to find jobs outside of Texas if we didn’t participate. https://t.co/owWwHF50ri

The Texas Tribune's Kate McGee also reported some alumni and donors threatened to pull their contributions if the song was no longer played.

The Athletic's Max Olson reported former head coach Tom Herman's decision to support his players who did not want to participate in the performances "was undeniably a turning point" that eventually led to his firing.

In January, new head coach Steve Sarkisian told reporters, "I know this much, 'The Eyes of Texas' is our school song. We're going to sing that song, we're going to sing that proudly…That's our song and we're fired up to sing it."

In June, a number of Texas student-athletes made requests of the school's administration, one of which was to remove "The Eyes of Texas" as the university's song.