The University of Texas plans to rename Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium’s field after Ricky Williams and Earl Campbell, a source told the Miami Herald.
This change comes a month after Texas student-athletes, influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, threatened to not participate in recruiting activities unless the institution addresses several race-related issues.
Renaming the field was part of a list of initiatives that Interim President Jay Hartzell outlined Monday in his letter to campus. Some of the other changes include expanding UT’s outreach to undeserved communities, the athletic department’s multi-million dollar investment to programs for Black students and erecting a statue of Julius Whittier, the school’s first Black football player.
“The symbolism of this honor transcends the recognition of the Heisman Trophies we received,” Campbell said in a statement. “It extends to all students, but specifically Black athletes, who continue to work to define our collective motto ‘Winning with Integrity.’”
Williams echoed his excitement.
“We recognize the naming of Campbell/Williams Field is a historic moment and we urge our nation’s universities and communities to continue to reflect and review the history, symbolism,and identities that we place on monuments, public institutions, and sports organizations,” Williams said in a statement.
The field inside Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, which has housed Longhorn football since 1924, is named after Joe Jamail, a billionaire trial attorney who donated millions to the university and died in 2015, according to Forbes. It was Jamail’s family who suggested that the field be renamed after Campbell and Williams, the university said in a statement.
In the June letter to the school’s administration, student-athletes requested a number of changes including the renaming of several buildings, dedicating a section of the UT Hall of Fame to the contributions of Black players and banning the “The Eyes of Texas” fight song, a tune rooted in racism. Renaming a field was not one of their requests. They did, however, want to name an area of DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium after Whittier.
Four-time Olympic gold medalist and UT alum Sanya Richards-Ross recently lent her voice to cause, doubling down on the calls that the school stop performing “Eyes” at games.
“The inaction sends a very clear signal: athletes, especially Black athletes, aren’t valuable,” Richards-Ross wrote in an op-ed for Elle.com.
Campbell and Williams were two of the most dynamic running backs in school history. Williams, who played from 1995-98, holds several school records including career rushing yards, total touchdowns and yards from scrimmage. He ended his collegiate career with a Heisman Trophy win in 1998 and the most rushing yards in FBS history, a record which stood for one year.
Drafted by the Saints in 1999, Williams played 11 years in the NFL with New Orleans, the Miami Dolphins and later the Baltimore Ravens. Health issues and suspensions for violating the league’s substance abuse policy hampered the one-time Pro Bowler’s career. His 1,853 rushing yards during the 2002 season ranks 14 all-time.
Before the likes of Williams, Cedric Benson and Vince Young left their imprint on UT football, there was Earl “The Tyler Rose” Campbell. A Longhorn from 1974-77, he ranks third in career rushing yards, total touchdowns and yards from scrimmage. He also became the first UT player to win the Heisman in 1977.
Campbell went on have a successful eight-year career with the Houston Oilers and later the New Orleans Saints. He racked up five Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections while his 128.9 rushing yards per game in 1980 ranks eighth in NFL history. The one-time NFL MVP was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.