President Larry Penley just found out on Monday about the decision to stop playing Fum’s Song at CSU home games, said CSU spokesman Brad Bohlander.
The decision to can the ditty came from the athletics department and was a “business decision,” Bohlander said.
Bohlander added that several people had complained about the song, which was created and sung by legendary CSU athlete Thurman “Fum” McGraw to chide CSU athletics opponents.
Gary Ozzello, a spokesman for CSU’s athletics department, said that McGraw is a CSU icon whom he’s had the pleasure of working with. At the same time, the song just didn’t represent the university the way officials would like it represented, he said.
The decision was a “joint conclusion after several internal meetings” within the athletics department, he said.
Bohlander said many were offended by the lyrics – which included “Don’t send my boy to Brigham Young, I’d rather see him dead” and “Before I’d see him in Boulder, I’d see my son in hell.”
The image of McGraw, who was an athletic director for CSU after his prolific sports career, was shown on Hughes Stadium’s big screen while the great man’s voice boomed the words to his playful war cry.
The condemnation of the decision by many community members – students and alumni alike – was swift.
“It’s not a mean song,” said Tom Field, president of the Alumni Association. “That song is so much preferable to the mean-spirited chants that we hear at games, I’m stunned anyone wants to make this an issue.”
Field, an animal sciences professor, said he and his class of 100 freshmen sang Fum’s song Monday morning.
K.C. Ingraham, who graduated CSU in 1990, used to hand out business card-size printouts of Fum’s Song during tailgaters. The Rams football season ticket holder fondly recalled the time he met McGraw, who died in 2000.
“He’s the kind of character who’s larger than life,” he said. “I’ve heard people say that Fum McGraw was more like John Wayne than John Wayne.”
Associated Students of CSU plans to hold an emergency session about the decision, where it may pass a resolution on the issue. Student government officials said they’ll have more information today.
The resolution will support “the Fum McGraw song and the tradition of the Fum McGraw song,” said ASCSU senator Stacey Smith.
Bohlander emphasized that not only was Penley unaware of the decision, but that he shouldn’t have been involved with it.
The athletics department decided that it wasn’t the image that the university wanted to present, Bohlander said, and simply decided not to show the video on the electronic screen at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium.
“It was only up one year,” he said. “Some people liked it, some people didn’t.”
But for Field, the most frustrating part is the lack of communication. He said he would have liked to know about the decision before it was made. In fact, Field didn’t know about it until contacted by a Collegian reporter Sunday.
“I’m president of the Alumni Association and I find out about this from one of you guys,” he said.
News managing editor Vimal Patel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.