Written by: Gretchen Pressley
The Double T is the “spirit mark” of Texas Tech. First seen on a football sweater in 1926, the Double T is now known worldwide.
It started on a football jersey in 1926 and quickly became one of the most recognized symbols for Texas Tech and West Texas.
Double T’s can be seen on flags, waving from car windows and in front of homes and businesses, and on the clothes and faces of devoted fans. The Double T is the “spirit mark” of Texas Tech, an icon of tradition, pride and school identity.
What Letter to Choose?
Although no one is certain who first thought up the now universal symbol of Texas Tech spirit, the first football coaches, E.Y. Freeland and Grady Higginbotham, might deserve all the credit. According to documents in the Southwest Collection, Freeland first put the Double T on his players’ football sweaters during the 1926 football season.
According to a Toreador article detailing the historic first sweater presentation:
Coach Freeland kept the boys in suspense as to what was on the sweaters by telling of the difficulties in selecting the letter. When Captain (Windy) Nicklaus stepped forward for his sweater, Coach held it so that the letter could not be seen. He told of some wanting an M (for Matadors), some a T, while he thought a P (for Plains) would be symbolic of the great surrounding country of the college. When Windy unfolded the sweater, he revealed two black outlined T’s on the front of a solid scarlet body.
The Double T was the obvious choice for the new school, then called Texas Technological College. Also, the Double T could have been formed to mimic the stylized T of Texas A&M University, of which assistant coach Higginbotham was a graduate.
More Double T Fame
Double T popularity spread when the senior class of 1931 donated the Double T bench to the campus grounds. Located in the south courtyard behind the Administration Building, the new bench designed by B.A. Brady was reserved for upperclassmen, but that tradition waned over the years and now anyone can enjoy its relaxing place in the sun.
The class of 1938 donated the first neon Double T sign, which currently is fixed to the east side of Jones AT&T Stadium visible from University Avenue. It was reputedly the largest neon sign in existence at the time it was purchased and presented to Texas Tech. In August 1987, a second neon Double T was added to the west side of the stadium, funded by Bill McMillan. It was replaced by a stained glass Double T after renovations to the stadium’s west side in 2003.
Such was the popularity of the famous Double T that when it came time to rename the university in the 1960s, alumni rebelled against faculty and student votes towards naming the school Texas State, not wanting to give up their Double T symbol. It became the official logo of Texas Tech in 1963.
The Double T existed in its original form until 2000, when an updated version of the logo was created. The new logo maintains the original premise, but incorporates three-dimensional effects paired with a white trim.
Today, the Double T continues to be a recognized symbol across the United States. No matter how far you travel from West Texas, the sight of the Double T to Texas Tech fans and students generates a thrilling sensation of pride and cultivates a unifying connection to Texas Tech.
Images courtesy Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library
and Artie Limmer.