Red McCombs sorry for criticism

SAN ANTONIO -- A billionaire donor to the University of Texas apologized Thursday for his criticism of the hiring of Charlie Strong as the new Longhorns football coach.

Red McCombs told the San Antonio Express-News that he had phoned Strong to apologize and promised Strong his "total support." Strong told him that an apology was unnecessary, he said.

"He wanted my help and my support. I told him I'd be happy to do it," McCombs said.

McCombs has donated millions to Texas, and his name is on one side of the football stadium. He publicly lobbied Jon Gruden to succeed Mack Brown and complained in a radio interview earlier this week that he hadn't been consulted about Strong's appointment.

In the radio interview, the former owner of the Minnesota Vikings and San Antonio Spurs called Strong's hiring "a kick in the face" and said the former Louisville coach would "make a good position coach, maybe a coordinator."

In Thursday's newspaper interview, McCombs said the perception that his comments about Strong, who is black, were race-based troubled him.

"I'm not sure I knew anything about the race issue until it was broadcast like that. I didn't even think about that," he said. He also said he extended his apology "to anyone that might have been offended by anything I said or did."