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Baylor Alum Named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young

Nov. 23, 2009

By Ryan Pierce

Ernst and Young named Baylor University alum Jay Allison the 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year in the Chemicals and Mining category. Allison, President and CEO of Comstock Resources, received the award Nov. 15 at a black tie gala in Palm Springs, Calif., hosted by television celebrity Jay Leno.

According to Ernst and Young, "the awards recognize leaders and visionaries who demonstrate innovation, financial success and personal commitment as they create and build world-class businesses."

Allison's business, Frisco, Texas based Comstock Resources, is a leader in the U.S. energy industry. With an emphasis on steady and sustainable growth, Comstock is now considered by many the "gold standard" in energy exploration and production. Ernst and Young noted the company's successful strategy as reflected in Comstock Resources' 2008 stock price, which "outperformed all exploration and production peers on the NYSE."

Comstock's mission, as outlined on its website, is to engage in "oil and gas acquisitions, exploration and development." Though it owns sites in eight states, operations are mostly concentrated in East Texas/North Louisiana and South Texas. This focus on one geographic area grants Comstock "specific geologic and engineering expertise" in that region and "contributes to the success we have had in our acquisition and drilling activities."

The success of Comstock is due in large part to Allison's determination and hard, characteristics modeled by his single mother. "I think I inherited a really good work ethic from my grandparents and my mother," he said in a profile for Ernst and Young. "The way they worked, that's normal to me. The entitlement theory is not normal to me. Being lazy is not normal to me. Acting like you are better than someone else is not normal to me."

Allison brought his mother's work ethic to Baylor in the 1970s. Despite being undersized, he walked on to the football team, became a three-time letter winner and played on the 1974 Southwest Conference championship team.

His hard work extended to the classroom as well. Allison graduated from Baylor's Hankamer School of Business in 1978 and then earned masters and law degrees, also from Baylor.

However, his hard work did not immediately translate into success as an entrepreneur. His first two forays into oil and gas failed, producing little but debt. Undaunted and still determined, Allison pressed on, borrowed money, and dug his own oil well. The well produced, and soon spawned Midwood Petroleum. Under Allison, Midwood grew, acquired more properties and eventually developed into Comstock Resources.

Upon receiving the Entrepreneur of the Year award on Sunday, Allison spoke to the gala's audience of how blessed he feels to be an entrepreneur. "You get this entrepreneurial gene...you're born with it and I think you have to use it." He went on to predict that the entrepreneurial spirit in America will continue to make the country great.

Allison is certainly qualified to talk about greatness, as both his life and company reflect it. He and his wife, Baylor alumna Jenny Allison, generously share their success with Baylor University as active supporters of the school and athletic program. In fact, their lead gift helped make the Jay and Jenny Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility, recently opened this year, a reality.

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