Pickens Gives $165 Million Gift To OSU

Boone Pickens announced today that he is giving $165 million – the largest cash gift in the history of NCAA athletics – to the Oklahoma State athletic department. The money is being given to complete the west end zone of Boone Pickens Stadium, build an indoor football facility, construct new soccer, track and tennis facilities, a new baseball stadium, practice fields for numerous athletic teams, and a new equestrian facility.

"Time is very important to me, as you can imagine being 77 years old," Pickens said today from the Varsity Club Room inside Gallagher-Iba Arena on the OSU campus. "Ace Greenberg (renowned philanthropist) said one time in New York that Boone Pickens does it the right way. He gives the money then he sees what happens. He doesn't die and then give the money, and never know (what is done with the money). I like that. I do that."

Pickens said that he met with head football coach Mike Gundy and his staff on Monday evening in Dallas, where they are attending the coaches conference, to inform them of his gift to the school.

"We've got to get competitive and that's what we keep falling back to," Pickens said. "I met with the (football) coaches last night in Dallas. I think it was Joe DeForest or Larry Fedora who asked what is it that you expect from us. I said I can stand here and tell you that 12-0 will do. But I said that's not what I'm after. I don't think that's realistic to tell a coaching staff that it's got to be 12-0 to make me happy. I told them I want you to be competitive. You all have heard me say it before, and I'm dead set on it. You'll hear me say it many times again.

"To me competitive is, of course, to win, but you're not going to win every game. That's a little bit unrealistic, and I think I'm a realistic person. But what it means is you're going to be competitive, you're going to put a team on the field that when the game is over, if you win you're a gracious winner; (and) if you lose, that you walk off the field with your head up, not down, and the opposing team knows that they had a tough, tough competitor that day."

Pickens made a $70 million pledge in 2003 to help kick-start the renovation of what was then Lewis Stadium. The north side stadium renovation is on track to be completed by the start of the 2006 football season, with the west end zone project (the third and final phase of the renovation) scheduled for completion in 2008.

"When completed our football stadium will be second to none in the country," said OSU president David Schmidly. "Thanks to Boone Pickens we are building the best to become the best."

Pickens told a story about leaving Lewis Stadium many years ago after another Cowboy loss, and he made up his mind that he wouldn't return any time soon.

"I can remember leaving here at homecoming some 20 years ago. Kansas beat us 28-27 or something in the last 30 seconds and we led the game at one time by three touchdowns. I felt so bad when I left that I thought I'm never coming back to homecoming. I really did. I thought why do I go someplace that makes me feel this bad, and look forward to going back the next year? So I didn't. I dropped out for two, three or four years," Pickens said. "But I knew I had to come back because this was it for me. This is my school, this is where I had to hang my hat. I want to get more of our people back, not only for homecoming but for all the games. I want to fill up the stadium, and I know exactly how you do that. It's not hard. You win. You win, you fill up the stadium.

"We are going to be competitive. It's a great university. Our facilities are going to be as good as anybody's, and better than most, when we get through. And it's all going to happen. It's got to happen pretty darn quick. Again you've got to go back to my age. In conclusion, I said in ‘03 this will not be my last gift. That's what I'll say today, and you know I mean it. This is not my last gift."

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