Masked Rider to Attend Gator Bowl

Kevin Burns, 2007-2008 Masked Rider, and Midnight Matador are anticipated to appear at the Jan. 1 Konica Minolta Gator Bowl.

Written by Cory Chandler

Texas Tech University and the Masked Rider Advisory Committee announced Thursday (Dec. 6) the anticipated appearance of Kevin Burns, 2007-2008 Masked Rider, and Midnight Matador at the Jan. 1 Konica Minolta Gator Bowl.

Despite a more than 1,300-mile drive from Lubbock, the appearance marks a homecoming of sorts for the mascot, which made its first official appearance as a mascot on New Year’s Day in 1954 when the Red Raiders faced Auburn University in the Gator Bowl. Ed Danforth, a writer for the Atlanta Journal, wrote after seeing it that no bowl team had made a more sensational entrance.

The advisory committee made the recommendation that the Masked Rider travel to Jacksonville, Fla., for the bowl during its Thursday meeting. Committee members also reviewed Burns’ actions during Texas Tech’s Nov. 14 football game against the University of Oklahoma, when safety guidelines were disregarded by the rider.

Following the meeting, Burns issued an apology for violating the guidelines.

"When I was selected as the Masked Rider last spring, the committee members reminded me that the position of Masked Rider is larger than any one rider," he said. "I represent a spirit and tradition of the university, and my actions at the Oklahoma game, while perhaps exciting, put a valued Texas Tech tradition at risk. Future riders must understand that there are reasons that the safety guidelines exist, and my disregard for them should never be repeated."

The sanctions issued against Burns are confidential employment decisions. Masked Rider Committee chairwoman Stephanie Rhode did say that the committee’s decisions were made to protect the future of the Masked Rider program and to prevent similar behavior by future riders.

"The committee remains supportive of Kevin in his position as Masked Rider and looks forward to his appearance with Midnight Matador at the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl," Rhode said.

Details regarding the Masked Rider’s upcoming bowl appearance are not finalized. The horse and rider are anticipated to appear at the Winn-Dixie Hometown Gator Bowl Parade on Dec. 31, the Gator Bowl Budweiser Tailgate Party on Jan. 1, and lead the Red Raiders onto Jacksonville Municipal Stadium field prior to kickoff.