Oregon State and Oregon to no longer use the term Civil War for rivalry games

OSU senior running back Artavis Pierce (#21) lines up against UO junior cornerback Deommodore Lenoir (#6) in the Civil War on nov. 30, 2019 in Autzen Stadium. With the plan of changing the name of the rivalry, the game is expected to be the last football rivalry matchup under the “Civil War” moniker. 

Oregon State University and the University of Oregon have collaborated to discontinue the term  “Civil War” when referring to rivalry games. This decision has come from both universities’ athletic departments along with input from others in the athletic community and will be enacted immediately by both universities.  

The term “Civil War” has been used as a representation of the rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State, but over recent years, many have raised concerns about the negative connotation that the “Civil War” term backhandedly references. 

“While not intended as a reference to the actual Civil War, OSU sports competition should not provide any misconstrued reference to this divisive episode in American history,” former Oregon State President Ed Ray said in a letter that addressed the OSU community. “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 decision to rename the historic battle between schools has been accommodated by both schools. The University of Oregon Athletic Director, Rob Mullens, addresses the name change as a long time coming while expressing gratitude towards the community for being responsive to this change. 

“I wish to thank former Duck great Dennis Dixon for raising the question and being the catalyst for change. Thanks also to our current student-athletes for their leadership and input during this process,” Mullens said in the statement released by Oregon’s Athletic department. “We must all recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War. This mutual decision is in the best interests of both schools, and I would like to thank 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.”

At this time both schools have acknowledged the combined efforts of each community including athletes, students, alumni and fans during this change. Many from both schools have raised concerns about the “Civil War” term. 

“I want to acknowledge and thank the current and former student-athletes who raised concerns about the historic name of the rivalry games played between our two institutions, UO President Michael H. Schill said. “We need to make this change to align the words and symbols we use around athletic endeavors with our shared campus values of equity and inclusivity. While the name of our annual game might change, it will absolutely continue to be one of the great rivalries in college sports.”

Oregon State Athletic Director Scott Barnes has been diligent towards ensuring that voices in the community are heard while also collaborating with UO to continue this outstanding rivalry. 

“I want to thank the University of Oregon President Michael H. Schill and Athletic Director Rob Mullens for their collaboration in this process and look forward to working together to continue to highlight this outstanding rivalry,” Barnes said.

Both colleges recognize that this will be an ongoing process and a way for communities to get involved in the opportunity to rename this long-standing rivalry game. As of right now, all other rivalry traditions remain the same. Previously, the “Civil War” was known as the “Oregon Classic.” 

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