Athletics Directors DeLoss Dodds and Chris Plonsky refer to lifetime Longhorns Red McCombs and Tex Moncrief as “bookends.”
“They’re two great Texans, they love The University of Texas at Austin, and they understand the role of athletics and higher education,” Dodds explains. “They’re what keeps us standing tall.”
The metaphor is fitting in more than spirit. The physical also coincides with Dodds’ sentiment. On the south end of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium stands the W.A. Tex Moncrief, Jr.-VF Doc Neuhaus Athletic Center, and the field is enclosed on the north side by the Red McCombs Red Zone.
McCombs’ and Moncrief’s contributions to the university are substantial, and everlasting. On Friday, Sept. 10, the two men were honored in a fitting tribute — two individual statues of their likenesses were unveiled in the food court area of the Red McCombs Red Zone.
Much like the men they resemble, the statues stand as pillars along the passageway from campus to Joe Jamail Field. Before every home football game, the Texas Longhorns and the Longhorn Marching Band walk through this tunnel.
“This is such a fun, and important, tribute,” football coach Mack Brown said. “You look at Mr. McCombs and Mr. Moncrief, they are great leaders, great fathers and great people. They have achieved success, and have bigger-than-life success stories. They are also friends who see the big picture.”
McCombs studied business and law at the university during the 1940s, and went on to own NFL and NBA teams, with his headquarters in nearby San Antonio. Today McCombs’ business endeavors range from golf course design to the high-tech field.
McCombs has always been inspired to give back to the university. It started 12 years ago, when he gave women’s athletics its largest-ever single donation — $3 million to build a state-of-the-art stadium for the young softball program.
“This university has been a big part of my life since I was 16,” McCombs said. “What happens here does change the world. We want this university to be the best in the world.”
In 2000, McCombs donated $50 million to the School of Business to help it maintain its elite standard among other nationally ranked institutions. Most recently, McCombs signed another multimillion dollar check to help the Longhorns renovate and expand the north end of DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.
“Red is a legendary businessman,” said Thomas Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business. “He has given the Business School so many gifts. This is one way we can thank him.”
After he received his degree in petroleum engineering from Texas in 1942, Moncrief served with the Navy before joining his family business, Moncrief Oil. Moncrief-Neuhaus stands as the football headquarters and was dedicated to the devout Longhorn in 1997, in recognition of Moncrief’s many contributions to the university and the Longhorn legacy.
In 2009, Moncrief gave a donation to create the W. A. “Tex” Moncrief, Jr. Endowment in Simulation-Based Engineering Sciences, which will continue to help young students chase after their dreams just like Moncrief did.
“This is overwhelming,” Moncrief said. “I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Longhorn fan. I have been a bleeding orange Longhorn fan for many, many years.”
Moncrief also serves as president of the William A. and Elizabeth B. Moncrief Foundation, which contributes to educational, health, civic and cultural organizations. Moncrief was named by the Texas Exes as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2008.
“Tex has been extremely generous to UT Athletics and to the campus,” said Gregory Fenves, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. “For all of that, I am very grateful.”
Friday afternoon provided a special setting for everyone connected to UT to pay tribute to two men who have meant so much.
“It’s a great day for The University of Texas at Austin to be able to honor and recognize two truly remarkable men,” President William Powers Jr. said. “Tex and Red have represented us with honor, integrity and success.”