Mike Holder Q&A

Oklahoma State vice-resident for athletics and athletics director Mike Holder appeared on Triple Play Sports radio show with Robert Allen earlier this week and here are a few of his thoughts including the much anticipated Sherman Smith Indoor Practice Facility.

RA: The most recent football season likely did not happen without the monetary support of T. Boone Pickens and many others, the efforts of yourself and fund raising in the athletic department. What is your thought on that?
Holder: I'd say for the first time there is a commitment to try and win at the highest level in football here. We are not going to concede football to anyone in the future, and we are going to try and compete for championships. A lot of things made that possible and made that dream where it could actually come true someday, but nothing more significant than what Boone Pickens did. You could never, never downplay the turnaround in our facilities brought about by his generosity and the other people that got on board. He was the guy that got us started with that first $20 million pledge to the south side of the stadium and then that $165 million gift and many more millions since then to academics as well as athletics. To kind of put that in perspective, I know this because I just thought of this the other day, or was looking at the numbers. Between 1970 and 2000 we spent a grand total of $10 million on athletic faciltiies for our department. A lot of that was done in the early seventies to then Lewis Field and then Gallagher-Iba was renevated in the eighties and then a couple of more improvements to Lewis Field, but $10 million total. Since 2000 or from the 10-year period from 2000 to 2010 we spent $400 million, which comes out to be $40 million a year. That is $10 million a quarter, so for every quarter since 2000 we spent what was spent in the previous three decades. There was a lot of catching up to be done. I would say any athletic program, no matter what level they have won at, would be hard pressed to match the money that has been spent on physical upgrades at Oklahoma State in the last decade.

RA: What was your feeling on Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon announcing that they were coming back for another season?
Holder: I'd say that makes a statement on what kind of experience they are having academically and athletically at our University for them to delay another year and hopefully, in Justin Blackmon's case it is another two years but I am not going to be greedy right now. I'm pleased as punch to get one more year. For them to come back and raise the bar another notch this coming season that says a lot. That is a refelction of coaching, a reflection of fan support, a reflection of everything that is going on over on our campus, and the leadership of Burns Hargis. It is nice to see that happening at Oklahoma State University.

RA: What is the situation for the Sherman Smith Indoor Practice Facility? I remember in Lubbock, Texas last football season you first bringing up the idea of putting the bids out.
Holder: Jim Hassenbeck of Studio Architecture in Oklahoma City has been working on this since November or December, I can't remember the exact date, and I think he is about 30 days out from competing all the plans and all the drawings. Once that is completed we will put all the plans out for bid and we'll think that process will be complete around mid April and will have a number, a total cost for the project and then we'll count our pennies and see if have enough money to build it. I'm guessing it will be between $15-20 million. We've downsized a lot of stuff. If it comes in at the low end of that I feel optimistic we can get started in May. If it comes in at the upper end then we have some fund raising to do.

RA: Our you happy with what you have seen of the plans so far?
Holder: Absolutely. Yes, it is pretty unique some of the things that we are going to try. I think it may have been a blessing in disguise that we were forced by the economy and markets and whatever to downsize the facility. I think we will end up with something that has just as much versatility and will be used by just as many teams and won't be as grandiose as we originally planned. What it has allowed us to do is that the footprint has shrunk in that we are re-thinking all of the projects may fit in that areas south of McElroy, you know the athletic village. Most of that was going to be taken up by this indoor practice facility and practice fields, but I think now there is an opportunity to fit tennis or track and soccer in there. We are in the process of re-examining our master plan.

RA: I know you tend to wait to comment on seasons and sports until after they are completed. Do you have any comment on basketball season thus far?
Holder: I reserve final judgment until the year is over, but I would say to this point, a little disappointing. We've had some unfortunate things that have happened to us. Fred Gulley going down before the season started with a shoulder injury, a lot of unforseen things happened, and that is part of competitive athletics. A lot of unforseen things happen, and some years it is more substantial than others. I am still optimistic and we have three games left on the regular season, and no reason we can't win all those and them maybe win some games in the conference tournament.

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