Between the appeal of Waco's relatively small size, the scholarships he accumulated and the influence of his older brother Ken Simpson, BBA '94, who had attended and later graduated from Baylor, Bob, BBA '70, MBA '71, wound up there as well.
"Frankly, the dollar amount of scholarships from Baylor was higher, and I didn't appreciate the difference in cost between private and state schools. I wasn't all that smart," says Simpson, who graduated from Baylor magna cum laude with a degree in accounting before completing his MBA. "But for whatever reason, I think God was helping me. Baylor was, for me, the right school. It became part of my fiber. I attribute a lot of my own personal success in my life to Baylor, whether it's spiritually or financially or just as a person. So out of that comes a fierce passion and an ongoing love that will be there my whole life.
"I think the Baylor family has more of it than most colleges: I see more devotion and love. Usually the major schools' alums are passionate about sports only, and I think Baylor's is broader and deeper than that for the average graduate."
Not afraid of a challenge even at a young age, Simpson says his first job while at Baylor came when he went to Merrill Lynch and offered to work for free. He was hired, with pay. At 19, he figured out his desire to understand Wall Street.
"I wanted to learn about the stock market and flesh out some real world [experience] with academics. That's when I was discovering my passion for finance on Wall Street. I would say that passion enabled me to be where I am now because Wall Street was really where my fortune was made, understanding it either as an investor or as someone developing a publically held company.
"It was funny, because the year before college, I didn't know what The Wall Street Journal was or what Dow Jones meant. I would go over to Moody Library and read The Wall Street Journal before I'd start my homework. For me, it was kind of like eating my ice cream before dinner."
Over the years, Simpson has been honored locally as well as nationally for his business acumen. He co-founded Cross Timbers Oil & Gas Co. where he served as CEO and eventually chairman. Incorporating in 1990 and going public in 1993, the company changed its name in 2001 to XTO Energy. As one of the nation's leading independent oil and gas producers, XTO Energy sold in 2009 to ExxonMobil.
In 2010, he founded and became a principal in MorningStar Partners, an oil and gas company. Most recently, MorningStar entered into a joint venture with Simpson's former company, XTO Energy, called Cross Timbers Energy, "a nod to XTO's beginnings." XTO contributes oil and gas assets while MorningStar contributes cash as well as technical and operating services.
After selling XTO, Simpson became co-chairman of Rangers Baseball Express LLC, and a majority owner of the Texas Rangers Baseball Club, sharing this partnership with Dallas businessman Ray Davis and Rangers president and CEO Nolan Ryan.
Simpson says he has been a Rangers fan from the very beginning when the Washington Senators moved to Arlington and became the Rangers in time for the 1972 season. Having finished his MBA at Baylor in August 1971, Simpson was soon hired as a CPA by Arthur Andersen, where one of his early assignments was to work on the Rangers account.
"I'm forever asked if I was an engineer or geologist, but my technical training was as a CPA. I'm somebody who can pick talent, encourage it and reward it, and keep it. I'm stronger at that than anything, and that's what we're applying to the baseball team. We have a whole group of people who are good at picking talent," he says.
"I'm a little kid from Cisco who managed to go to Baylor University, who worked for Arthur Andersen on the Rangers account, and ended up being one of the Rangers chairmen. It's a testimony to what you can do in America and what a school like Baylor allows you to do if you get that foundation."
Among those who helped form Simpson's foundation were a trio of Baylor professors: Dr. Emerson Henke, BBA '63, Dr. Roderick Holmes, '55, and Dr. James Parsons. He says they were "far and away the most influential professors in business to me, and great men. They were all brilliant."
Simpson has enjoyed supporting his alma mater in a number of ways, including making generous donations for the new Baylor Stadium and the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center. He hopes both facilities help recruit and better educate Baylor student-athletes, as well as benefit alumni and the university as a whole. He believes having a nationally visible athletic program does a number of things to benefit Baylor.
"It gives the alumni, nationwide, a tie to their university. It also is great for recruiting and gives Baylor a larger and more diverse, more talented group of kids applying to upgrade its ongoing reputation for academics. I think they tie together, and I love it. I happen to love sports, but I don't think it's without merit for the school," he says.
"Athletics never had a central home for the academic support, and I think putting the Academic Center there alongside the student-athletes brings a better recognition of the fact that Baylor believes in education in its athletic program. We meant for the facility to be something they really were able to utilize to help the students academically."
Simpson is also a member of the Endowed Scholarship Society, having established three scholarships (one in accounting in memory of his brother) and is a member of the 1845 Society and the Bear Foundation. Simpson has been a guest speaker for the Baylor Business Network and in 2010 received the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Simpson is married to Janice Simpson and is the father of seven children. Two sons are current Baylor students. Blake, BBA '12, is an MBA candidate, and Baylor is a freshman.