Oregon and Oregon State have agreed to drop the name “Civil War” for their rivalry games.
The move Friday was made after discussions between officials at both schools and current and former student-athletes.
Oregon State President Ed Ray said the Civil War name “represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery.”
“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,” Ray said in a statement. “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 change comes amid ongoing protests following the death of George Floyd that have brought renewed attention to complaints of systemic racism and have created an outcry to remove statues and other symbols of the Confederacy.
Oregon athletic director Rob Mullins said former Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon raised the issue of the name.
“We must all recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War,” Mullins said in a statement.
In a video statement, Dixon said he consulted with fellow former Ducks Garren Strong and Jonathan Stewart before broaching the topic with the university.
“I am happy to see two universities coming together to drive change, and everlasting change,” he said. “I am excited to be part of this change.”
Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes said the schools would collectively reach out to athletes and alumni, as well as the university communities, to consider a new name for the rivalry.
The football game between Oregon and Oregon State has been played 123 times and is the fifth-most contested rivalry in the country. This season’s game is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 28 in Corvallis.
The men’s basketball series between the two teams has been contested 354 times.