Oklahoma State University officials cheered when oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens gave a record-setting gift of $165 million to his alma mater two years ago for athletic programs and then invested it in his BP Capital hedge fund so that it would grow even more.
But now the fund has dropped so low amid the national economic downturn that university officials won’t say how much is left and the fancy athletic village it was supposed to pay for has been put on hold.
Pickens himself has lost “well in excess of $1 billion” as oil and natural gas prices have plummeted, said Jay Rosser, Pickens’ spokesman.
In 2007, Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder trumpeted growth in the school’s athletic facilities construction fund. Pickens’ generous contribution, together with other donations and market appreciation, had allowed the fund to mushroom to $288 million.
OSU spokesman Gary Shutt on Wednesday declined to say how much is left.
The reason Gary Shutt didn’t say “how much is left” is because there allegedly isn’t much left. From OUinsider:
Officials were told that actually, the entire $165 million donation, and the earnings, which once inflated the gift to over $300 million, had recently been eliminated by margin calls due to drastically falling oil prices.
As of Monday OSU’s gift had flat-lined completely and was declared ‘gone.’
Pickens and Holder apparently both resisted pleas by some OSU Regents to bank a good deal of the balance out of the fund when it exceeded $ 300 million, just 14 months ago. Instead both endorsed a plan of borrowing almost $ 200 million needed to expand and renovate Boone Pickens Stadium on the Stillwater campus.
Ironically, the stadium had been re-named after Pickens following his generous donation in 2005. But now that stadium sits as a drain of over $ 1 million per month in interest payments alone, on an already strapped athletic budget, which annually ranks between 8th and 9th in the Big XII conference.
Well, I don’t know if any of this stuff is true, but if it is, OSU is in some trouble. Fortunately, though, we at The Lost Ogle are progressive thinkers and have already come up with 10 ways the university can raise some money and pay for all their debts. The first one is below, the rest are after the jump.
Have the Football team sell “World’s Finest Chocolate” candy bars.
If this works for elementary schools, it could work for the OSU football team. Imagine how many bars Zach Robinson’s mom would sell if she brought them to her work. Think of Des Bryant going door to door so he can sell 200 bars and get a cool prize. Hell, as an added bonus they could probably get Eskimo Joe’s to put a coupon on the bottom of the wrapper.
Create a Mike Gundy line of hair gel and styling products
Granted, it would probably be glittery orange and be named “40”, but I would probably buy this stuff. If it damaged my hair, I’d at least have some strong super glue for random project around the house.
Sell “Orange and Black” Sausage
I’ve never understood the charm of buying 10lbs of sausage from an 8-year-old boy, but the Blue and Gold stuff seems pretty successful, so I guess an Orange and Black would sell.
List every opponent on the football schedule as “Oklahoma.”
It’s a well known fact the Oklahoma State fans only show up for one game each year, so by listing each and every opponent as Oklahoma, more fans would show up to games. More fans equals more money.
Buy Lesko’s Book”¦
It’s worth a shot.
Merge with Oral Roberts University
If you remember correctly, some rich guy from Hobby Lobby gave something like $70 million dollars to Oral Roberts University. Maybe if OSU merged with Oral Robert they would get some of that cash.
Make a Women’s Basketball Swimsuit Calendar
Sadly, women’s basketball is insanely popular here in Oklahoma. Double sadly, a women’s basketball swimsuit calendar would probably sell.
Get Garth Brooks to headline Orange Peel
He’s an OSU alum, right? He’s from Tulsa, right? He’d actually be a draw, right? This one actually makes sense.
Kidnap and hold Toby Keith for ransom
I think I speak for many University of Oklahoma fans when I say that this is highly encouraged. As an added bonus, Joe Castiglione and Bob Stoops will probably pay the ransom out of their own pockets.
Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. Plus those cheerleading uniforms are expensive. They’d also get a whole bunch of new fans.