Texas linebacker Juwan Mitchell wanted to feel supported by the Longhorns football community when he joined his teammates protesting police brutality and asked the administration to change the alma mater and rename campus buildings due to their references to racist culture.
Instead, Mitchell received backlash from some fans who considered the requests inappropriate. His opinion of Texas has changed because of that reception.
Now, Mitchell wants to play elsewhere. He wrote in a Twitter post that he considers the reaction to the team’s desires indicative of a culture in which supporters only care about on-field success and not the individual wishes of student-athletes.
“For once, we decide to voice our opinions about things that can help better the community,” Mitchell said. “It seems they only have our front but not our backs. People who want to create change don’t care how much money can be lost, don’t care about who hates them or any bad outcomes that may happen. The only thing on your mind should be equality.
“It’s not about blacks vs. whites, or cops (vs.) blacks. It’s about doing what’s right! With that being said, I do not feel comfortable representing the University of Texas.”
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Texas is one of several NCAA football programs to see players demand change in the wake of nationwide protests of racial inequality. Other instances include Texas A&M and Clemson. Earlier this week, Oklahoma State players publicly criticized coach Mike Gundy for wearing a T-shirt deemed racially insensitive. Some Cowboys also accused Gundy of harboring a culture of demeaning interaction toward black players.
In all cases of student-athletes speaking out, there has been heated discourse among fans over whether they should share their thoughts that mirror the backlash against pro athletes such as Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James for voicing opinions on social issues in recent years.
College players have historically been less likely than their pro counterparts to weigh in on controversial subjects. An era of growing athlete empowerment, however, seems to finally be awakening the amateur level and forcing administrations to reassess their ties to problematic historical figures.