Oklahoma State University has announced a $165 million gift from oilman T. Boone Pickens to help fund construction of one of the nation's most comprehensive collegiate athletic complexes over the next decade.
Pickens's gift — the largest single donation for athletics at an institution of higher education in U.S. history — will help build the west end zone at Boone Pickens Stadium; a multi-purpose indoor practice complex; new soccer, track, and tennis facilities; and a new equestrian center, baseball stadium, and outdoor practice fields on OSU's Stillwater campus. According to OSU president and CEO David Schmidly, the gift complements the school's strategic plan, which calls for spending about $500 million on various academic, athletic, and student life-related initiatives. "This is a truly remarkable gift," said Schmidly. "Mr. Pickens's $165 million donation to our athletic program is a critical component of our three-pronged approach to developing a top-tier university. Athletics, academics, and student life must all fit together to build a competitive institution."
Pickens, 77, earned a degree in geology from OSU in 1951 and went on to found Mesa Petroleum, which today is one of the nation's largest independent oil and gas firms. He left the company in 1996 to found BP Capital, an energy investment firm that is considered one of the country's most successful hedge funds. His charitable gifts in 2005, including his latest gift to OSU, totaled almost $230 million, of which OSU received $190 million.
"My passion for OSU has only intensified over the years as I recognize the link between my education and my success," said Pickens. "I believe that developing teams that are competitive in all sports requires the best facilities possible. Developing those facilities will help move the university into a new era, both in athletics and academics. Athletics has proven to be a significant contributor in the academic success of an institution, both from a fundraising and a performance perspective."