The rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State is getting a new name.
The two schools announced Friday that they were dropping the “Civil War” moniker from their matchups.
"Today's announcement is not only right but is a long time coming, and I wish to thank former Duck great Dennis Dixon for raising the question and being the catalyst for change," Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. "Thanks also to our current student-athletes for their leadership and input during this process. 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."
According to Oregon State president Edward Ray, the phrase “Civil War” was first used to describe the rivalry in the 1930s. No new name for the rivalry has been determined.
“Changing this name is overdue as it represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery,” Ray said in an open letter. “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.”
“In recent years, some students, faculty, alumni, student-athletes, OSU stakeholders and community members have questioned the appropriateness of this term. 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 move to change the official name of the rivalry comes during a nationwide push to take down statues of members of the Confederacy and rename buildings and other structures for slaveholders and Confederate leaders. After a push from NFL players Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson renamed its honors college. Former South Carolina players Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore have spread a petition for the Gamecocks to rename the school’s rec center. It’s currently named for segregationist former Sen. Strom Thurmond.
The Civil War is also not the first war-themed rivalry name to be changed in an official capacity. Missouri and Kansas’ longtime rivalry was called the “Border War” for years as a reference to the Civil War conflict between the states. But the name was changed in 2004 to the “Border Showdown.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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