UT athletes want part of stadium renamed for San Antonio football legend

Julius Whittier was Highlands graduate, first black student-athlete to letter in football at Texas

(Images provided by the University of Texas)

SAN ANTONIO – University of Texas Longhorns football players and other student athletes shared a statement on Friday requesting several changes geared toward supporting black students and one of the requests has a direct San Antonio connection.

Student-athletes are asking the university’s athletics department to rename an area of Darrell K. Royal stadium after Julius Whittier, the first black student-athlete to letter in football.

Whittier died in September 2018 at the age of 68. He was a San Antonio native and graduated from Highlands High School in 1969. He is considered to be one of the greatest football players ever from the San Antonio area.

Not only was Whittier the first black student-athlete to letter in football, but he was also among the first black students at UT to receive an athletics scholarship.

RELATED: UT-Austin football players demand school change buildings named after racist figures, donate to Black Lives Matter

E.A. Curry and Leon O’Neal had integrated the program before Whittier, but neither of those players ever made it onto the varsity roster.

Whittier made history when he appeared in Texas’ season opener against Cal in 1970.

Whittier played offensive tackle and tight end under legendary head coach Darrell Royal, and finished his Longhorns career as a three-year letterman.

He helped Texas win the national championship in 1970 and three Southwest Conference titles.

Whittier earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy, then a graduate degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs in 1976 before he completed his law degree at Texas.

Whittier was inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 2013 and the San Antonio ISD Athletics Hall of Fame in August 2018.

The request to rename an area of the stadium for Whittier is one of many changes student-athletes want from the university.

The list of actions includes donating a fraction of the department’s annual earnings to the Black Lives Matter movement and black organizations and establishing a permanent black athletic history exhibit in the Athletics Hall of Fame.

Athletes also want UT to rename campus buildings named after Texans with racist views, remove a statue of prominent segregationist James Hogg.

They also want the university to replace the school song “The Eyes of Texas,” which has ties to minstrel shows and was created during segregation, and lift a requirement for athletes to sing the song.

Other calls to action include increasing outreach efforts to inner-city schools in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston.

Student-athletes said in the statement circulated on social media that they will no longer participate in recruiting incoming players or show up at donor-related events if athletics officials fail to respond.

UT-Austin Athletics Director Chris Del Conte posted on Twitter that he is “always willing to have meaningful conversations regarding any concerns our student-athletes have. We will do the same in this situation and look forward to having those discussions.”

About the Author:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.