By – ABC13 – Billy Joe “Red” McCombs, a San Antonio businessman who started as a car salesman and grew an empire that spanned media, oil, and professional sports, died at his home at age 95.
McCombs, who was born in 1927 in Spur, east of Lubbock, at one point owned 50 car dealerships under the name Red McCombs Automotive Group. He founded Clear Channel Communications with Lowry Mays in 1972, and brought the Spurs to San Antonio in 1973.
Red McCombs began his energy ventures in the mid-1960s by investing in South Texas well production. Soon after, he started his own company to operate wells. Some of the major discoveries were the McCaskill Field in Karnes County and the Charline Field and Schreiner Ranch Field in Live Oak County.
Today, McCombs Energy has many long-standing relationships with exploration and production companies, and working interest production in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Alabama, and other states in the South and Southwest U.S.
In addition to the upstream activities in Texas, Red has oil and gas investments across the continental U.S., offshore, and in international plays as well.
McCombs also owned the Spurs professional basketball team two separate times and also previously owned the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets. Clear Channel Communications is now known as iHeartMedia and is still headquartered in San Antonio.
McCombs was also known for his philanthropy. The University of Texas at Austin named its business school after him following a $50 million gift in 2000. The north end zone at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and the school’s softball stadium are also named after McCombs. In 2005, McCombs and his foundation gave MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston $30 million. He also contributed to The Texas Tribune.
“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 is reflected across the Forty Acres,” UT president Jay Hartzell said in a statement.
McCombs was a donor to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during his 2016 presidential campaign, and after Cruz dropped out, he donated to Donald Trump. He was also formerly the chair of the board of Constellis, the holding group of the private military company formerly known as Blackwater.
“Red was a visionary entrepreneur who touched many lives and impacted our community in immeasurable ways,” the McCombs family said in a statement. “But to us, he was always, first and foremost, ‘Dad’ or ‘Poppop.’ We mourn the loss of a Texas icon.”