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"Bum" Bright Dies

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DALLAS -- Harvey R. "Bum" Bright, a staunch Texas A&M booster best known for buying the Dallas Cowboys from founder Clint Murchison and selling them to Jerry Jones, has died. He was 84.

Bright died Saturday at his Highland Park home after a long illness.

"He was a close friend and a businessman that I respected and admired tremendously," Jones said in a statement Sunday. "Our agreement on the purchase of the Dallas Cowboys was finalized with a few notes on a napkin and a handshake. With Bum, his word meant everything. He was one of the most honorable men that I have ever had the privilege of knowing and working with."

Bright was chairman of the Texas A&M Board of Regents in 1982 when he was responsible for hiring Jackie Sherrill as the football coach and making him the highest-paid coach in college football at the time. Two years later, he bought the Cowboys, then sold them in 1989.

"When the Cowboys thing came up, he was so worried they were going elsewhere," said former Texas A&M football coach R.C. Slocum, a good friend of Bright's. "Buying the Cowboys was a business deal, but a big part of it was also keeping the Cowboys in Texas."

Bright toyed with the idea of firing coach Tom Landry, a move Jones made soon after buying the team.

Bright received a degree in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M in 1943.

In 1997, Bright made an unrestricted endowment of $25 million to Texas A&M. At the time, it was the largest gift of its type the university had ever received.

"He bled and died maroon," former Cowboys director of player personnel Gil Brandt said. "The Cowboys were something he did for the community, but his first love was Texas A&M."

In a statement Sunday afternoon, A&M President Robert Gates said, "Bum Bright was the personification of what it means to be an Aggie. His love and commitment to Texas A&M University were unsurpassed. Indeed, he has left a lasting legacy to the Corps of Cadets, the academic enterprise and athletics. Aggies everywhere mourn his passing."