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‘Changing this name is overdue’: Oregon-Oregon State agree to stop referring to rivalry as ‘Civil War’

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Oregon running back Travis Dye (26) tries to avoid Oregon State inside linebacker Avery Roberts (34) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. Oregon and Oregon State have agreed to immediately cease referring to their rivalry in all athletic competitions as the Civil War.

Amanda Loman, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — One hundred and fifty-five years after the Civil War between the Confederacy and the Union ended, another one is ending.

In an effort to be more sensitive to racial issues, grievances and unequal treatment, Oregon and Oregon State have agreed to immediately cease referring to their rivalry in all athletic competitions as the “Civil War”, ending a near-century-old tradition.

Each school announced the joint decision with press releases on Friday. Leaders from both programs admitted this change was long overdue.

“Changing this name is overdue as it represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery,” Oregon State president Ed Ray said. “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. 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.”

Oregon athletics director Rob Mullens credited former Ducks football great Dennis Dixon for sparking the change, which he said “is not only right but is a long time coming.”

“Thanks also to our current student-athletes for their leadership and input during this process,” Mullens added. “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.”

The annual Pac-12 football showdown has been played almost every year since the two programs first met on the gridiron on Nov. 3, 1894. The schools have played 123 times in football, with Oregon leading the series 66-47-10.

The football contest has been commonly known as “The Civil War” since the 1930s — after newspapers referred to it occasionally as such for years before that. It is now one of the most well-known rivalry names in the nation. Previously, it was referred to as the “State Championship Game” or the “Oregon Classic.”

Oregon and Oregon State have played each other the fifth-most in the country. Their basketball programs hold the collegiate record for games played with 354.

“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,” Oregon 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.”

If the college football season plays out per the current schedule, the 124th annual meeting will take place on Nov. 28 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis. The Ducks have won three straight and 11 of 12 against the Beavers.