Funding Red Raider Excellence
Gifts from McMahans, Wallachs part of Red Raider Club's annual impact on Texas Tech Athletics.
George McMahan gave himself an attitude adjustment a few years ago after he got frustrated with his beloved Texas Tech University.
The price to park his RV at football games had increased more than he expected.
“It made me mad,” he said, deciding to give up the spot.
“Then it hit me — we were not paying the Red Raider Club for the privilege of parking my RV. We were donating to help student-athletes with scholarships,” said the successful Lubbock real estate developer.
“So we started giving more and more,” he said.
Gifts from McMahan and his wife, Linda, have supported both the newly opened Sports Performance Center and the planned Dustin R. Womble Basketball Practice Center, both facilities priorities of The Campaign for Fearless Champions.
They’re also members of the Red Raider Club’s Victory Circle — people who give annual gifts of $10,000 or more.
During 2017, more than 400 Victory Circle members gave more than $10 million to support student-athletes through their combined membership gifts.
The smaller, annual gifts added up to make a significant impact.
And it’s not just Victory Circle members who make a difference year after year.
Alumni Tyler and Michele Wallach purchase season tickets for football and men’s basketball. They have loved Red Raider sports since they were students and now build family memories by taking daughter Ava Grace and son Parker to the games.
Like the McMahan’s Victory Circle membership gift, part of the Wallach’s season ticket purchase supports Texas Tech Athletics, providing crucial support for the university’s 17 teams.
Gifts student-athletes rely on
“The majority of athletic departments — especially in Power 5 conferences — have annual giving programs, and the Red Raider Club is our program,” said Kirby Hocutt, director of athletics. “It’s our lifeblood in so many ways.”
Annual membership gifts provide the support Hocutt and his team rely on to educate, serve and grow fearless champions year-round.
“Whether its new alumni joining for the first time at $25 or lifelong fans giving $100,000 a year, annual gifts to the Red Raider Club provide critical support for our student-athletes,” said Andrea Tirey, senior associate athletics director for development.
Membership gifts support the Red Raider Club Excellence Fund and are ultimately used for a broad range of student-athlete services, including providing the very best academic tutoring, nutrition support, medical care and strength and speed conditioning.
The fund also supports the J.T. & Margaret Talkington Leadership Academy, teaching leadership and career skills with a long-term goal of impacting student-athletes after graduation.
“The Red Raider Club allows us to sit in the homes of young prospects and offer them a life-changing opportunity and world-class education,” Hocutt said, adding that it’s all to help student-athletes reach their dreams and play at the highest level.
“Without the Red Raider Club, those opportunities are not available for us, and we would not have resources to compete in the Big 12 Conference,” he said.
The McMahans: ‘We love Texas Tech’
That lifelong impact is something Texas Tech students of all generations seem to share.
“We love Texas Tech, and we’re where we are today because of Texas Tech,” Linda McMahan said.
Her husband added, “Lessons I learned in class about economics and finance have been very helpful all through my business career.”
The couple began giving to the Red Raider Club in the early 2000s at the minimum levels to get good parking spaces and that RV spot.
In the years since, their generosity has grown out of a desire to make a difference in the lives of student-athletes.
When Tirey asked the couple to lunch late last year, they thought she was going to ask them to support the newly announced basketball practice facility.
Before leaving the house, they decided to donate a million — half in 2017 and half in 2018 — and put a $500,000 check in Linda McMahan’s purse.
“We talked for an hour, and we were just visiting,” Linda McMahan said.
Finally, the couple asked about fundraising progress on the basketball practice facility — it was the same day Texas Tech took the wraps off the project and announced a $10 million gift from Lubbock-businessman Dusty Womble.
Texas Tech had a total of $11 million for the project, Tirey said, adding that she’d love to have the couple be part of the project at some point.
Linda McMahan pulled out the check and told her, “Now you have $12 million.”
The couple understood why it was important for Texas Tech to upgrade its athletic facilities after accompanying the football and men’s basketball teams on the road.
“We see facilities other Big 12 schools have and how they help with recruiting,” George McMahan said.
“We love Texas Tech, and we’re where we are today because of Texas Tech.”
When they drive by the campus and see the new Sports Performance Center, George McMahan says there’s a “warm, fuzzy feeling we had a small part, but Mr. Petersen did the heavy lifting,” referring to Gary Petersen, who’s generosity to the project was recognized with the naming of the Petersen Family Indoor Football Facility.
Linda McMahan added, “It has that wow factor. It’s just beautiful.”
The couple is also impressed with Texas Tech’s leadership.
“We have faith in Kirby Hocutt and the team he’s put together,” George McMahan said. “He’s getting the right kind of coaches and athletes.”
Students are still the couple’s priority.
“I really like doing scholarships for kids,” Linda McMahan said.
George McMahan added, “The quality of the students is impressive. We read the applications and see their ACT scores.”
Attracting quality athletes — and people
Student-athlete scholarships are another part of what annual Red Raider Club gifts support.
Hocutt said scholarships enable Texas Tech to attract the kind of student-athletes — and people — who impress the McMahans and others.
“Like running back Justin Stockton being the first in his family to go to college. It brought a tear to his eye when he was given a scholarship to come to Texas Tech University.
“Or Justin Gray picking Texas Tech over Harvard and Stanford,” he said of the senior who led the Red Raiders to college basketball’s Elite Eight with this season’s historic win against Purdue and wants to be an orthopedic surgeon after graduation.
“Leadership in our country is needed more than ever, and intercollegiate athletics provides the best training at any level,” Hocutt said.
The Wallachs: ‘A special place for us’
Tyler Wallach met his future wife at Texas Tech when he was studying with Michele’s roommate.
They were friends first.
“It took me awhile to sell her on the idea,” Wallach said.
He took her to a Red Raider basketball game about 15 years ago when Bob Knight was coaching the team.
Michele Wallach was already a big sports fan.
“He didn’t have to drag me,” she said.
Her parents loved sports and Michele Wallach played basketball and ran track and cross country in high school in the Panhandle town of White Deer.
She earned a degree in human development and family studies in 2003, followed by a master’s in counseling.
Tyler Wallach got a degree in business management in 2004 and worked for his family business — PB Materials — based in his native Hobbs, New Mexico.
His family has kept season seats at Jones AT&T Stadium for more than 20 years. The couple added basketball seats three years ago.
Tyler Wallach’s family also donated toward the Don-Kay-Clay Cash Foundation Clubhouse at The Rawls Course.
Before the couple had children, they would attend the Big 12 Basketball Tournament in Dallas and go to every game.
They were also in Jones AT&T Stadium the night the Red Raider football team beat then-No. 1 Texas in 2008.
“It was fun,” Tyler Wallach said.
“We were jumping up and down, and we broke the bench,” he said of the stadium seating before individual seats were installed a few years ago.
Tyler Wallach’s family sold their business a few years ago, but he continues to work with the company.
The Wallachs moved to Lubbock a few years ago. They enjoy being close to their alma mater.
“I hope to persuade our kids to go to college here.”
“We met here, and Texas Tech holds a special place for us,” Tyler Wallach said.
The couple like to drive through campus and show their children where they took classes and did things.
“They’re probably getting tired of the stories,” Michele Wallach said.
And they show them the Carol of Lights every holiday season.
“I hope to persuade our kids to go to college here,” she said.
They’re laying some groundwork by turning Ava Grace and Parker into Red Raider fans.
“There were so many fun games this year,” said Michele Wallach of the men’s basketball season. “It’s just fun to make memories with our children.”
That included trips to this year’s NCAA Tournament.
“Dallas was a lot of fun,” said Tyler Wallach, who attended all of the games with Parker. Michele, Ava Grace and other family members came to Texas Tech’s wins against Stephen F. Austin and Florida.
“The first game was pretty nerve-wracking,” said Tyler Wallach. “The game against Florida was too much fun.”
A week later, the Wallachs saw the Red Raiders beat Purdue to reach the first Elite Eight in school history before losing to eventual national champion Villanova.
While in Boston, the Wallachs toured the Freedom Trail and ate at the U.S. Union Oyster House, the oldest continuously operated restaurant in the country. They visited Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox — making baseball fan Parker happy.
And yes, the Wallachs also go to Texas Tech baseball games.
The family met head coach Tim Tadlock on the field before a football game recently, and he invited Parker to visit before a practice, where he spent 15 minutes throwing the 8-year-old pop flies on the field.
“He loved it,” said Parker’s dad.