Oregon, Oregon State dropping 'Civil War' name for rivalry games

Oregon and Oregon State will no longer use the phrase "Civil War" to promote rivalry games between the schools.

In a joint announcement Friday, the schools said they made the decision after conversations with university officials and current and former student-athletes at both schools.

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

Schools across the country are reviewing long-held traditions, school cheers, stadium names, building names and on-campus statues in the wake of protests surrounding George Floyd's death as a call to action to address racial injustice.

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens pointed to former Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon as being a catalyst for change when he asked whether the term should continue to be used.

"We must all recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War," Mullens said. "This mutual decision is in the best interests of both schools, and I would like to thank [Oregon State athletic director] 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."

In a video statement, Dixon said he consulted with fellow former Ducks Garren Strong and Jonathan Stewart before broaching the topic with the university.

"I am happy to see two universities coming together to drive change, and everlasting change," Dixon said. "I am excited to be part of this change."

Barnes said the schools would collectively reach out to athletes and alumni, as well as the university communities, to consider a new name for the rivalry.

The Oregon-Oregon State rivalry ranks fifth in college football for the most games played. The Oregon-Oregon State series holds the collegiate record for the most men's basketball games played with 354.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.