Athletes testify to rename Strom Thurmond Wellness Center

The Presidential Commission on University History on Friday is set to take testimony pushing to rename the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Some of the more notable recent names in University of South Carolina athletics are asking the school to change the name of its showpiece fitness center, arguing that the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond shouldn’t be glorified in such a way due to the segregationist views he once held. 

The Presidential Commission on University History on Friday is set to take testimony pushing to rename the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center from standouts including Marcus Lattimore. 

Before that meeting, the athletes are set to hold a news conference where they’ll lay out their arguments for renaming the building. 

The Black student athletes are also signatories to a memo asking the university to remove from its campuses “the names of Confederate supporters, racists, misogynists, and those who outright advocated for the subjugation of any person’s life.”

The effort began in June when the athletes signd a Change.org petition to get the Strom Thurmond Wellness Center renamed.  

RELATED: USC sports legends call for removal of Strom Thurmond name from campus building

Former football players Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery, Mike Davis, and Shaquille Wilson all signed the petition. Later in the evening, former All-American women’s basketball player A’ja Wilson said she signed the efforts too, and finally NBA Hall of Fame basketball player and former Gamecock Alex English said he too had added his support.  

The wellness center, which is the main recreation and exercising building for all students on campus, opened in 2003 at the coroner of Assembly and Blossom Streets. It has had Thurmond’s name on it from the beginning, and he donated about $10,000 for its construction before his death. 

Thurmond was both a governor and longtime U.S. Senator from South Carolina, serving in the U.S. Senate for 48 years. He died in June of 2003 at the age of 100 just months after leaving office. 

During much of his political career in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, Thurmond was a staunch segregationist. In the 1948, he ran unsuccessfully for president on a platform of state’s rights and segregation. In 1957, he set the Senate record for a filibuster against a civil rights bill to expand Black people’s voting rights. 

The online petition brings up all those points as reasons Thurmond’s name should be removed.