Tulsan Donates $20 Million To OSU Athletics

STILLWATER – Sherman Smith, who met Boone Pickens when the two were students at Oklahoma State University, joined his longtime friend in making an extraordinary donation that will benefit Cowboy and Cowgirl athletics. Smith is giving $20 million toward OSU's indoor practice facility, it was announced Thursday by athletic director Mike Holder.

The $20 million gift makes the 83-year-old Smith, of Tulsa, the second largest private donor in the history of Oklahoma State University. Pickens, who has donated $250 million to OSU, is the largest donor.

Artists renderings provided by OSU at the news conference showed the facility's name as the Sherman E. Smith Training Center, but an official name has not been selected. The one thing that is known is that Smith's name will be included.

"This is a special gift serving Oklahoma State athletics," Holder said. "An important part of dramatically improving our athletic facilities, this gift continues the momentum that has been established at OSU. Sherman has been a tremendous difference maker in supporting OSU athletics for many years. We are extremely grateful to Sherman and his family for this important contribution."

Holder said the $20 million will not be used to build the practice facility, which will be located directly north of Boone Pickens Stadium in the Athletic Village, across Hall of Fame Avenue. Instead, he said, the money will be placed in Pickens' BP Capital hedge fund, and the interest earned will eventually be used to maintain the facility.

Groundbreaking on the indoor practice facility is expected for this fall with completion targeted for 2009. Holder said it will be used by OSU athletes in a number of sports, including football, soccer, baseball, softball and track.

"The thing that brings everything together, that every single sport can use, is an indoor practice facility," Holder said. "We're going to have an indoor practice facility that will have a full-size soccer field, full-size football field. I'm not going to get too specific about it but it's going to be a big building. In Payne County, other than two dorm towers on campus, the two biggest structures are going to be Boone Pickens Stadium and this indoor practice facility. It's going to have a 90-foot clear span inside and we'll be able to kick, punt, and do anything we want to in there.

"The charge I gave Gary Sparks, the architect, was to make that indoor practice facility look as much like Boone Pickens Stadium and Gallagher-Iba Arena as possible. We want those three buildings to stand out right here on our campus. I can't wait to see that thing go up."

OSU head football coach Mike Gundy spoke during Thursday's news conference. "This gift will have immediate benefits, but will also have a long-term impact in recruiting, student-athlete development and postseason preparation," said Gundy, who said one benefit will be allowing the Cowboys to practice during inclement weather, including when lightning is nearby, which in the past has forced workouts to be canceled.

"On behalf of Cowboy football, we want to express our gratitude to Sherman Smith and his family," Gundy said.

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