Florida State is reviewing whether it should remove Doak Campbell’s name from its football stadium after his pro-segregationist views were brought to light this month, university president John Thrasher said on Monday.
The stadium was named after Florida State’s first university president in 1950. Several petitions, including one started by former Seminoles linebacker Kendrick Scott, have surfaced to get the name changed in recent days.
“I have been following with great interest the petitions circulating on social media asserting that Doak S. Campbell, FSU’s president in 1947 during its transition from the Florida State College for Women, resisted integration and asking the stadium to no longer bear his name,” Thrasher said in a statement. “I have asked athletics director David Coburn to immediately review this issue and make recommendations to me. I look forward to receiving his report soon.”
Thrasher did not provide a timeline for that report.
Campbell was the president of the school from 1941-57, and was integral in the school’s transition into a co-ed university. He also spearheaded construction of Centennial Field, according to the Palm Beach Post, which later was replaced by a larger football stadium that was named after him.
He was reportedly opposed to the admission of Black students to Florida State after it transitioned from the all-women’s school, and “refused to tolerate any breach of racial segregation,” per the Palm Beach Post. He was quoted in a 1957 story in the Tampa Morning Tribune, per the report, discussing banning white students from attending desegregation meetings and banning the student newspaper from posting pro-desegregation editorials.
Renaming the stadium would be just the latest move to combat racism in the college football world in recent weeks. Virginia changed its logo to remove a design linked to the school’s history with slavery, Florida dropped its “Gator Bait” cheer over the phrase’s “horrific racist imagery” and San Jose State announced it will stop using the “Spartan Up” hand gesture, as it’s similar to a gesture that’s been adopted by white supremacists.
While many may feel that renaming the stadium is a positive thing, Campbell’s grandson does not.
Doak Campbell III told the Palm Beach Post on Monday that he doesn’t think his grandfather was a racist, but rather was focused on protecting the school.
“I’m extremely disappointed that somebody is trying to change the name,” Campbell III told the Palm Beach Post. “It sounds like he was trying to keep the school from being embroiled in a hot political topic that might have adverse consequences. He was not promoting segregation. He was concerned about protecting the tranquility of the school and not let it be dragged into something whether he believed it or not. That was his primary concern.
“As long as I knew him, he never professed that segregationism was something that was good. He was always promoting the advancement of Black education.”
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