Rowdy Raider hasn’t always been the gray and white wolf we know today. The Wright State mascot has gone through several iterations since the university started playing varsity basketball in 1970.
A 1971 student contest determined that Wright State’s colors would be hunter green and gold and its athletic teams would be called the Raiders. Early renderings of the mascot showed a pirate with a bandana and an eye patch. It wasn’t until 1986 that Rowdy Raider, a Viking with a horned helmet and red beard, emerged as the official mascot (possibly reflecting Cleveland State’s newly adopted mascot, the cartoon character Hägar the Horrible).
However, some felt that the mascot shouldn’t represent a specific gender or cultural heritage. A marketing firm was hired to update Rowdy in 1996 and replace the Viking with an animal that could be considered a raider. The following year the Viking Rowdy was retired. In his place stood a brown wolf in a jersey and sneakers.
The current version of Rowdy Raider was unveiled in 2007. The new wolf is gray, white, and black, and is described as being “fierce” with claws for hands and feet.
In recent years, Rowdy’s talents have gone beyond sporting events to appear at a variety of functions around campus and throughout the community. A social media star, Rowdy has appeared in YouTube videos, Snapchat stories, and photos on Facebook and Instagram. Rowdy even launched a Twitter account—@RowdyWSU—in 2014.
Wright State 53, Michigan State 49: A Victory to Remember
Perhaps the most memorable single athletic victory for Wright State came on December 30, 1999, when the Raiders stunned eventual men’s basketball national champion Michigan State, 53-49, at the Nutter Center.
“We were totally outplayed from start to finish,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo told Associated Press sports writer Rusty Miller. “There is no question the better team won tonight.”
Wright State didn’t appear to be the better team coming into the game—in fact, the Raiders had lost eight of their 10 games that season and were a 23-point underdog to the Spartans, ranked No. 6 nationally.
Life in the Fast Lane: Raider Bowling
Some of Wright State’s NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletic teams have found moments to shine on the national stage. Perhaps Wright State’s most perennially successful team, however, is not even funded by the university. The Raiders’ club bowling program has been a powerhouse since it was founded by Jeff Fleck, Mandy Wilson, and Ty Davidson in 2003.
The men and women’s teams are typically among the nation’s top 10 teams in regular-season rankings by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) team ranking system and collegebowling.com. The women have qualified for the USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships six of the last seven years, and reached the semifinals of the 2013 national tournament. Wright State’s women’s team also reached the final four at the 2017 Collegiate Club Championships.