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Texas AD Chris Del Conte: Meeting with football team had ‘tremendous’ dialogue on topic of diversity

Chris LowESPN Senior Writer

  • College football reporter
  • Joined in 2007
  • Graduate of the University of Tennessee

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said there was “tremendous” dialogue in a meeting involving him, university president Jay Hartzell and the Longhorns football team Wednesday night, but understands players’ frustrations similar to those expressed by junior linebacker Juwan Mitchell over their desire for the university to promote diversity and ensure black students are fully supported.

Mitchell said Wednesday on Twitter that he does not “feel comfortable representing the University of Texas.”

Del Conte, in a statement provided to ESPN, said: “I took no umbrage with what Juwan (Mitchell) said on social media, he’s frustrated like so many of our student-athletes are. He and the team want immediate change, which is understandable, but we will be meeting with all of our teams, so we’re asking for their patience.

“President Hartzell is just getting started in his new role, and he will be meeting with student organizations, faculty and staff on campus, as well. We look forward to all of these important conversations as we continue moving forward, but Wednesday’s meeting with the football team got us off to a great start.”

Because of the ongoing coronavirus protocols, Del Conte said it took a while to put the meeting together and be compliant with all of the requirements for safe, face-to-face meetings.

“But, this wasn’t something we could do on Zoom or virtually, as President Hartzell and I thought it was imperative to hear their concerns in person,” Del Conte said. “I was extremely proud of our team and the dialogue was tremendous. They are passionate, want change and voiced their concerns. We talked, but most importantly, we listened and began the conversations that are going to be so critical as we go forward.”

Last week, Longhorns athletes had requested the removal of “The Eyes of Texas” as the school song and changes to names of campus buildings in an effort to make the Austin campus more inclusive to the black community.

Texas coach Tom Herman has encouraged his players to speak their minds as protests against racial injustice have raged across the country. He also urged fans to support the players — period.

“If you’re going to cheer them and love them for three and a half hours a Saturday in the fall, you better have the same feelings for them off the field because they’re human beings,” Herman said earlier this month. “They deserve the same amount of respect and human rights that all of us do in this country when we agreed on the social contract to be a member of the United States.”

Mitchell was the latest Texas football player to say that he no longer wanted to be associated with the university.

He said Wednesday on Twitter: “We put our blood, sweat and tears in every day so the city of Austin can enjoy their Saturday’s. For once, we decide to voice our opinions about things that can help better the community. 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.

“When I look in the mirror in the morning, I want to tell myself I did the right thing. That should be everyone’s mindsets. It’s not about blacks vs. whites, or cops [vs.] blacks. It’s about doing what’s right!”

Two weeks ago, receiver Brennan Eagles said he didn’t plan to play another snap at Texas “knowing what’s going on in our society due to color and the system being broken. … let’s look at the bigger picture.”

This content was originally published here.

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