The University of Texas at San Antonio president’s decision to end the six-year tradition of using the “Come and Take It” phrase and flag as a rallying cry at football games came under fire by the head of the university system’s board of regents.

Kevin P. Eltife, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, said in a Wednesday statement that the board does not support “abandoning traditions and history that mean much to students, alumni, and other Texans.”

“I am very disappointed with this decision and will immediately ask our Board to establish policies that ensure that the governing body of the UT System will have the opportunity in the future to be consulted before important university traditions and observances are changed,” Eltife said in the statement.

UTSA President Taylor Eighmy announced in an email to staff and students Tuesday that he would stop the use of the motto and remove the slogan from all physical and digital environments associated with UTSA, including on licensed merchandise and playing fields. His decision came a month after he said he would launch a task force of stakeholders to determine whether the slogan aligned with the university’s mission following criticism it perpetuates white supremacy.

Eighmy said in a statement Thursday that the university looks forward to continuing to work with the board of regents to “advance education, research, and service for the public good.”

“We greatly appreciate the perspective of Chairman Eltife and value the positive working relationship that exists between UTSA and the UT System Board of Regents, the Chancellor, and System staff,” he said in the statement.

The university’s use of the “Come and Take It” motto and flag drew scrutiny last month after UTSA opened the new Roadrunner Athletics Center of Excellence. The $40.4 million facility prominently featured signage with the UTSA Roadrunner mascot’s image above the phrase, similar to the famous 1835 Gonzales flag.

Soon afterward, Ellen Riojas Clark, professor emerita in the Bicultural Bilingual Studies department, started a Change.org petition to have the slogan removed from the facility. Clark called the “Come and Take It” phrase racist, anti-Mexican, and pro-slavery. The petition garnered more than 950 signatures.

Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum is the San Antonio Report's education reporter.