TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – Florida State University President John Thrasher has asked the university’s athletic director to look into potentially renaming Doak Campbell Stadium after more than 2,000 signed an online petition.
The former university President shut down students’ calls at the time to integrate the university, but Campbell’s grandson argues the situation was more nuanced.
Former FSU President Doak Campbell served from 1941 to 1957 encouraged the construction of the stadium that now bares his name, but his actions during segregation have led to calls for a name change.
“Football is the face of the university,” said former FSU football player Dr. Kendrick Scott.
Scott started an online petition, which has collected almost 2,500 signatures and asserts Campbell’s stance against integration is well documented.
In one case, Campbell attempted to prohibit the school newspaper from writing about segregation.
“It is to me just counterintuitive for someone to have those views of not wanting to integrate… and to have that person front facing on the stadium,” said Scott.
As a result of the petition, current FSU President John Thrasher has tasked Athletic Director David Coburn with reviewing the issue and making recommendations.
But Campbell’s grandson, who shares the same name, asserts his grandfather was not pro-segregation.
“He never professed any segregationist opinion,” said Doak Campbell III.
Campbell III says his grandfather feared segregationist lawmakers would seek retribution against the university.
“So he was trying really to protect the institution and the students. He was not trying to make a statement,” said Campbell. “He did not want the university dragged into a very hot political topic.”
Both Campbell and Dr. Scott believe the university’s investigation will go their way.
Dr. Scott hopes if the name is changed, the stadium will be renamed in honor of former FSU Football Head Coach Bobby Bowden.
We reached out to the university’s athletic department for comment on this story, but were told the Director doesn’t plan to speak publicly on the topic until the review is further along.
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