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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

UTSA's Defining Moment

UTSA's Defining Moment

With those words last August, San Antonio billionaire entrepreneur Red McCombs announced a $1 million donation to UTSA’s Department of Athletics.

McCombs’ gift—his family also pledged to buy 1,000 Alamodome tickets for the university’s inaugural football game—matched the single largest gift in the department’s history.

His donation, which will go toward the construction of practice facilities, was announced at a Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce breakfast to challenge business leaders to support the football team. It helped launch the athletics department’s Fill ’Er Up ticket campaign to break the NCAA first-game attendance record.

“All schools have defining moments in their history and this is a defining moment for UTSA.”

Eight months later, on April 10, McCombs was among dignitaries on hand when the first shovels of dirt were turned at the groundbreaking ceremony for Phase One of the multimillion-dollar UTSA Park West campus, which lies between Loop 1604 on the north and Hausman Road on the south. Once complete, the campus will eventually be home to all UTSA Athletics teams.

“For Mr. McCombs to step up and do that was outstanding,” said Athletics Director Lynn Hickey. “We appreciate the gift and that he’s part of our

program. He has been extremely supportive; his level of enthusiasm was pretty overwhelming.”

The businessman has a history of success with professional sports teams. He was sole owner of the Minnesota Vikings NFL franchise and brought the San Antonio Spurs to the Alamo City. He said his goal is helping UTSA reach the same heights at the collegiate level.

“I felt it was something we would see repaid many times over in the life of UTSA, to look back at this moment and the ingredients that were put in place to make this a successful program,”

McCombs said. “They needed that vote of confidence.”

He noted that a large part of the success the football program has experienced is due to the groundwork laid by students who worked hard to rally for a football team, as well as Hickey’s hiring of football Coach Larry Coker, former head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, known for their winning tradition.

“This is a stamp of credibility,” McCombs said. “It is now this university’s time to step up and give local kids an opportunity to play at home, to play in the [Alamodome] and give us a basis for creating a [great] product.”

UTSA’s Athletes are the big Winners
The multimillion-dollar UTSA Park West Campus will eventually be home to all UTSA Athletics teams.

Hickey said McCombs continues to be an important adviser to the program.

“He is the sports expert in San Antonio and the whole country,” she said. “He believes in what we’re trying to do here. I don’t know how you measure that in terms of dollars and cents.”

–Vincent T. Davis

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