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Texas regents: ‘The Eyes of Texas is, and will remain, the official school song’

Chairman Kevin Eltife issues statement in support of UT President Jay Hartzell, school song

Posted October 22nd, 2020

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The UT System Board of Regents took a proactive step Thursday to shield new University of Texas president Jay Hartzell from “The Eyes of Texas” hailstorm and left no doubt it will remain the Longhorns’ school song.

Regents chairman Kevin Eltife reiterated the board’s approval of Hartzell’s announcement that “The Eyes” will remain the university song even though some band members are now refusing to play it.

“To be clear, the UT System Board of Regents stands unequivocally and unanimously in support of President Hartzell’s announcement that The Eyes of Texas is, and will remain, the official school song,” Eltife said in a statement.

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Chairman Kevin Eltife at the University of Texas System Board of Regents Meeting in Austin, Texas on February 26, 2020. [Dimitri Staszewski / American-Statesman]
Each member of the UT System Board of Regents is appointed by the Texas state governor. It’s well known that Gov. Greg Abbott is a Longhorn fan. Collectively, the regents are the highest-ranking authoritative body within the statewide university system.

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“The Eyes of Texas has been UT Austin’s official school song for almost 120 years,” Eltife said in his statement. “It has been performed at most official events — celebratory or solemn — and sung by proud alumni and students for generations as a common bond of the UT family. It is a longstanding symbol of The University’s academic and athletic achievements in its pursuit of excellence.”

The regents also support Hartzell’s announced plan to engage in ongoing dialogue within the university community about the song’s origin and meaning. Hartzell has asked a campus committee to prepare study about the song’s origins. The group is expected to have its work completed by January.

Controversy over “The Eyes” moved to another level Wednesday when it was discovered the Longhorn Band will not play during Saturday’s game against Baylor.

Band director Scott Hanna told band members the group did not have the “necessary instrumentation, so we will not participate in Saturday’s game.” Too many band members now feel uncomfortable playing a song that dates back to the early 1900s and was first performed at a minstrel show.

Without the band present, UT officials are likely to keep playing recorded fight songs and “The Eyes” from the stadium speakers.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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