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Former Florida State Player Launches Petition To Rename Doak Campbell Stadium

A general view of Florida State's football stadium during a game.

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: A general view of play between the Clemson Tigers and the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 20, 2014 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Doak Campbell, the man for whom Florida State's football stadium is named, was the first president of Florida State University, when the former Florida College for Women became a coed school in 1947. He was also an avowed segregationist.

Kendrick Scott, a former Florida State linebacker from 1991-94, doesn't think that the largely Black Seminoles team should have to play in a stadium that honors a man that would not have allowed them in his school. He has launched a petition to rename the stadium after his head coach Bobby Bowden, the legendary FSU coach from 1976-2009. The field at Doak Campbell Stadium was dedicated to Bowden in 2004.

"The stadium at FSU was named after Doak Campbell a former FSU President," Scott wrote in the official petition. "While, the tradition has been preserved, in reflection his non inclusive views of blacks as a segregationist is divisive, therefore his name should be removed from a stadium that has been home to many Black football players helping to build the school and the tradition to what it has become today: a national treasure."

"Therefore, this petition seeks to change the name of the stadium to the Bobby Bowden Stadium and change Bobby Bowden field to Charlie Ward field. Charlie Ward was recently polled as the greatest Seminole of all time and rightfully so. He broke a modern day color barrier by being the first Black football player to win a Heisman Trophy at a Florida School. He remains the most decorated college football player in history."

There's been some pushback across the country as schools wrestle with whether or not to rename buildings that honor known racists. Campbell is obviously a huge figure in the history of Florida State University, but it is hard to downplay just how much of an avowed segregationist he was.

In the 1950s, he forced the cancellation of an on-campus regional conference when he learned that Black professors from nearby FAMU were set to attend. He sought to ban FSU students from attending pro-integration meetings, and wanted to ban an on-campus paper, The Flambeau, from running articles in support of integration.

If Campbell had his way, the Florida State football program wouldn't look anything like it does today, and certainly wouldn't have had the success that it did under Bowden a few decades later. It is understandable that members of the FSU football family feel that it is inappropriate to honor his legacy every Saturday, when he would never do the same for them.

[Tallahassee Democrat]