Texas Remembers Longtime Donor Red McCombs
This week, tragic news broke out of Austin that Billy Joe McCombs, known as ‘Red,’ passed away at the age of 95. The man who was around Texas Athletics for so long proved to be incredibly crucial in the growth of The University of Texas.
Now the university is mourning his passing.
“We are saddened by the loss of Red McCombs, a true pioneer and legendary Longhorn, and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family,” UT President Jay Hartzell said. “From the business school that bears his name, to our athletics and student success programs, his entrepreneurial spirit, drive to win and commitment to excellence are reflected across the Forty Acres. His legacy of generosity will forever impact the lives of countless students who find inspiration in his story and go on to change the world.”
Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte added to that in a lengthy statement.
“We lost a great one, an iconic supporter and ever-present figure in Texas Athletics, with the passing of Red McCombs,” Del Conte said. “He was truly a Texas legend, who absolutely loved his native state of Texas, UT and his Longhorns. Red was so full of life, such a man of conviction, a great friend to many and he and his wife, Charline, left an indelible mark on our state, the nation and the world. There’s not many stories more powerful than Red’s, a man who built an empire from the ground up with an aggressive attitude, determination, ingenuity and an endless Texas spirit.
“He’s an inspirational tale of a small town boy who had big aspirations and lived out every kids sports dreams — owning a minor baseball team, NFL and NBA teams, in addition to all of his car dealerships. He was involved in countless and diverse successful ventures, impacted so many and was far-reaching in his endeavors. And, his generosity, compassion and philanthropy was extraordinary and well documented, too.
“It certainly was a life well-lived and a legacy so immense,” Del Conte continued. “Red left no stone unturned in life in everything he did and I count myself as one of the lucky ones to have had him as a friend and mentor. I’m beyond thankful that he was in my life and will carry the wisdom, knowledge and lessons I learned in our many visits for a lifetime. I’ll miss him dearly, but we are forever grateful for all he and Charline did for Texas Athletics. Their legacy and impact will never be forgotten, and we send our deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and friends.”
As part of his major contributions, McCombs gifted $50 million to the business school in 2000, helping propel it onto the national and international stage. At that time, it served as the single largest donation in school history. McCombs was reported to have said the gift was “truly the defining moment of my life.”
In return, the school was renamed in McCombs’ honor. As a result of the enormous gift, the McCombs School of Business expanded with star faculty hiring, an increase of resources for grants and top tier research, and quickly attracted and recruited more top students.
Just about 50 years earlier, McCombs attended business school there. He also went to law school at The University of Texas at Austin.
McCombs, too, played a key part in UT’s Center for Students in Recovery. With it, students are able to find a supportive community and achieve academic success while enjoying a genuine college experience free from alcohol and other drugs.