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NFL Vikings’ owner Red McCombs gives $50 million to The University of Texas at Austin’s business school

The University of Texas at Austin announced at a press conference today (May 11) that San Antonio businessman Red McCombs, owner of the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings, has given a $50 million cash gift to the university’s business school, which will be named the Red McCombs School of Business.

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AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin announced at a press conference today (May 11) that San Antonio businessman Red McCombs, owner of the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings, has given a $50 million cash gift to the university’s business school, which will be named the Red McCombs School of Business.

“I believe strongly in the quality of leadership at The University of Texas, or I wouldn’t be making this gift,” said McCombs. “I decided to make this gift now because the timing is right — both for me and for UT. The Texas Business School is already a great school. That’s an indisputable fact, and the national rankings confirm it. My gift is about creating new opportunities. My hope is that this gift will allow the school to be one of the very best in the world, period.”

The gift is the largest single donation in UT Austin’s history and is even more significant because it is unrestricted, meaning business school officials will decide how the money will be applied.

“Red McCombs has been a leader and visionary in Texas for many years,” said UT Austin President Larry R. Faulkner. “He is committed to expanding opportunities for all Texans and to building a better future for our state and nation. We are proud and grateful that he has chosen The University of Texas at Austin as the means to accomplish these aspirations. With this gift, Red McCombs is making a Texas-sized impact on the future of this state, now and for generations to come.”

Last year, McCombs, CEO of Red McCombs Enterprises, was ranked 112th on the Forbes magazine list of the 400 richest people in America with an estimated worth of $2.1 billion. While the Vikings franchise is McCombs’ most visible holding, he is involved in numerous other ventures, including auto dealerships (where he initially built his fortune), oil, ranching, communications and real estate.

He has been owner of the National Basketball Association’s San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets. McCombs purchased the Vikings in 1998 and has been credited with restoring “Purple Pride” to the Minneapolis community. The team finished 15-1 in McComb’s first year as owner and had its highest attendance in team history, averaging more than 63,000 fans per game.

In 1972, McCombs and Lowry Mays co-founded Clear Channel Communications, Inc., which owns radio and television stations and outdoor displays in 32 countries around the world. The company is represented in 101 markets in 41 states, operating 830 radio and 19 television stations and has equity interests in over 240 radio stations internationally. Eller Media, a subsidiary of Clear Channel, operates more than 550,000 outdoor advertising displays, making it the largest such operation in the world.

A member of the Texas Business Hall of Fame and a recipient of the UT Austin Distinguished Alumnus Award, McCombs is equally well known for his philanthropy, particularly to education and health organizations. He has chaired many fund drives and community service organizations and The McCombs Foundation, established in 1981 by McCombs and his wife, Charline, donates as much as $8 million a year to institutions and charities. In 1997, he gave UT women’s athletics its largest-ever donation — $3 million for a new softball complex that bears the names of the McCombs couple.

McCombs, the son of an auto mechanic, grew up in the town of Spur, just east of Lubbock in the Texas panhandle. He was a lineman and receiver at Southwestern University in Georgetown (north of Austin) before transferring to UT Austin, where he was a student in the business school and then law school in the late 1940s.

In the past 20 years, the Texas Business School has risen in national standings. U.S. News and World Report ranks the UT Austin MBA program No. 16 and the BBA program among the top five. The school is noted for innovative programs in technology, entrepreneurship and globalization. McCombs’ gift provides half the capital for a planned $100 million endowment fund to further increase the school’s stature. Disbursed annually over eight years, the gift will permit the school to greatly increase faculty productivity, attract more star-quality faculty, improve student programs and become one of the leading providers of business education in the world.

For more information on McCombs and his donation, please visit the Website www.mccombs.utexas.edu/news/mccombs/

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