PFB - T. Boone Pickens’ Contributions to OSU Go Beyond Dollars and Cents

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Greenhorn
Feb 17, 2018
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It’s rare for one man to have such a far-reaching and vast impact on a university, but T. Boone Pickens was a rare man and his love for Oklahoma State and resulting commitment to see the university grow both academically and in athletics was unprecedented.

Pickens never drew up a play in a playbook or recruited an under-the-radar wide receiver, but his generosity and commitment to OSU athletics, specifically football, set the stage for a renaissance of the program.

Back in 2003, the famous capitalist and philanthropist — and OSU alum and super fan — made his first donation of $20 million to renovate Lewis Field and so began a new era of Oklahoma State football.

The south side and north side of the stadium were renovated by 2004 and 2006, respectively, and the facility was renamed in Pickens’ honor. Then, in 2006, he made the single largest donation in NCAA history, a gift of $165 million, to bring OSU’s football facilities not just up to par with other Big 12 schools, but to the top of league. All of the sudden, the areas where football players played and prepared rivaled any program in the country.

So it’s no coincidence that those two big donations coincided with an uptick in success for Oklahoma State’s football program.

Starting with that 2003 season, OSU has since gone 139-68 (.671). Since the 2006 donation it is 119-52 (.696). Before Pickens’ original donation to football, the program held an all-time record of 422-447-41 or a win percentage of .464.

There were others involved in the program’s success, namely Mike Gundy and athletic director Mike Holder. That trio didn’t always see eye to eye, but their combined efforts and impact on the football program, and Oklahoma State in general, are undeniable.

“It’s a sad time for everybody,” Gundy recently said according to the Tulsa World. “Mr. Pickens and I have gone head-to-head for years about things, (but) he’s a big part of all of this.

“It would have been difficult for this to happen without him. Everybody knows that.”

In his annual letter to Oklahoma State’s fanbase just two weeks ago, Pickens expressed his continued commitment and his confidence in the team for 2019.


But I’m in it to win it. My first goal for 2019 is to win a Big 12 football championship…again. Then to make the final four playoffs. Fingers crossed Mike Gundy can make that happen this year. The window is closing for me.

Pickens’ generosity was not limited to football. In the above-linked letter he set the number at $652 million worth of donations to OSU both in the athletic department and to academics.

A sculpture of OSU’s biggest benefactor was commissioned last year, his childhood home has been moved to Karsten Creek and even the remains of the man himself will rest in the campus soil of Oklahoma State University.

But his shadow over Oklahoma State will reach far past the physical outline of any statue and his imprint on the university will be felt more than just the rumble of the bleachers inside the stadium that bears his name.



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