Of the many traditions at Texas Tech University, only the Masked Rider (previously known as the Red Raider), has universal acceptance. For many years, Texas Tech's Masked Rider has thrilled and excited fans, young and old and in 1981 the fans established an endowment fund to continue the tradition.
During the early years when the athletic teams were known as the Matadors, the school did not have a mascot. After a sportswriter dubbed the team "Red Raiders," a group of students decided the team should have a Red Raider Rider. These early "ghost riders" would unexpectedly circle the football field before home games and then vanish creating the aura of mystery which still shrouds the Masked Rider through the identity of the student selected for the job is made public.
In those early appearances, students who had access to horses but not necessarily permission to ride them at games, would sneak the horses to games and hurriedly return them after the impromptu rides.
The Red Raider survived on a sporadic basis trough World War II and then was largely forgotten until the idea was received by coach DeWitt Weaver. The first Texas Tech-sanctioned Masked Rider debut was on January 1, 1954 when Joe Kirk Fulton wearing Levis, red shirt, red and black cape and black hat, let the team onto the field to play Auburn in the Gator Bowl, a game which the underdog Red Raiders won 35 - 13. Fulton said, "At the time, we didn't realize the impact the Masked Rider would have on Texas Tech, or that it would be adopted as the official mascot of the University."
Newspaper accounts said the first appearance of the Masked Rider awed spectators into a momentary stunned silence before they burst into cheering. an Atlanta Journal sportswriter reported that, "No team in any bowl game ever made a more sensational entrance."
An endowment fund was created to offset the many expenses incurred by the rider each year as he or she travels over 14,000 miles and makes well over 170 public appearances a year, including out-of-town football games, rodeos, parades, school visits and ceremonies. Expenses include the cost of horse care, handling of the horse, all travel related expenses, equipment upkeep, trailer maintenance and costume repair and replacement.
The Saddle Tramps contributed the first $2,000 to the fund in 1981, and the Texas Tech Student Alumni Board presented a Red Raider Scholarship of $1,000 to demonstrate student appreciation for the rider. In 1995, Norwest Bank (nowWells Fargo) established the Norwest Bank Masked Rider Endowment Fund and Scholarship. The Masked Rider receives a $2,000 scholarship as a benefit of the Wells Fargo Endowment Fund. The Wells Fargo Endowment Fund has a 10 year goal of $250,000. Both the original fund and the Wells Fargo fund, when completed, will provide the income necessary to keep the 50+ year tradition alive for the Red Raider fans of the 21st century.
Wells Fargo serves as the offical sponsor for the Masked Rider Program. For all your banking needs, pleae contact Wells Fargo to set your account. Services include personal and business banking, loans, mortgage, investing and insurance. More information by clicking here.
Red Raider students and fans who want to help carry on the tradition of the Masked Rider can donate online or send contributions to:
Texas Tech Masked Rider Endowment Fund
Attn: Stephanie Rhode
Center for Campus Life
Lubbock, Texas 79409-5014
For more information regarding the Masked Rider Endowment Fund, contact Stephanie Rhode, Spirit Program Director, at the above address, by calling (806) 742-5433, fax 806-742-0138, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.