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University system regents vote to rename Maryland football stadium

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University system regents voted Friday to take Curley Byrd's name off Maryland's football stadium.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents voted at a Friday meeting to rename Byrd Stadium, the home since 1950 of the Terps football program, "Maryland Stadium." The final vote was 12-5.

More on the renaming of Maryland's football stadium

The vote follows a recommendation earlier this week by Wallace Loh, the University of Maryland's president, to transition the name away from Curley Byrd, a former president and athletic director whose segregationist policy positions kept black students off Maryland's campus until courts interceded in the 1950s.

Loh had commissioned a work group earlier in the fall to weigh the pros and cons of staying or sticking with Byrd's name. Ultimately, Loh's council to USM regents was to generically rename the stadium, carve out a way to honor Byrd at a university library and place a five-year moratorium on the honorific renaming of campus buildings.

Maryland's student government and a group of heavy political hitters have publicly backed the renaming. Opposition to the renaming has lacked public organization, though the change hasn't been popular in every corner of campus or the Web. A couple of community members testified against the change at the regents' meeting on Friday, though they were outnumbered by those in the support of the movie.

"On the one hand," Loh wrote in his recommendation to regents, Byrd "dramatically increased student enrollment, faculty, funding, and the size of the campus. He adopted the Terrapin as the institution's mascot. He named the student newspaper, the Diamondback. He laid the foundation for what UMCP is today."

But, "on the other hand," Loh said Byrd's name has become closely associated with the now outlawed "separate but equal" standard of segregated education: "Values of racial segregation and discrimination are associated with his iconic name and legacy."

"I have tried to find a principled compromise between these two views," Loh said at the regents' meeting.

Since the regents voted to approve the five-year ban on naming buildings after people, it couldn't be changed to honor a person. One stretch of regent discussion made it sound like "Maryland Stadium" would be a placeholder, though for how long hasn't been confirmed.

Others worried that removing Byrd's name would obscure history and set a dangerous precedent.

"We must recognize that we cannot change our history and make it something we want it to be," university archivist Anne Turkos told the regents.

Not among those testifying were any members of Maryland's majority-black football team. Colin Byrd, the Maryland student who has most publicly pushed for the name change, told the meeting a Terps player told him players on the team had been barred from discussing the topic publicly. A Maryland athletic department official contested that view.