October 24, 2008
T. Boone Pickens' enormous wealth has long been synonymous with Oklahoma State's athletic programs. Basically, Pickens is really really rich -- like, richer than Jay-Z -- and because he donates so much of his richness to OSU, he basically is OSU. Or OSU is him. One or the other. Never was this more apparent than when Pickens gave $165 million (!) to the university for football renovations and an athletic village. Donations don't get much bigger than that.
I never really knew the details of that giant donation, but here they are: Pickens demanded that his donation remain in his hedge fund, BP Capital, so that it could grow and balloon alongside the market. In the meantime, OSU took out a loan to begin renovating their football stadium to the tune of $300 million. (Which was at one point what the $165 had grown to.) Unfortunately, OSU never asked for the donation, and then the market basically imploded in on itself, and guess what? Pickens doesn't have the $300 million anymore. Whoops.
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.'
Wow. "Gone." Like the wind. Like so many summer houses from so many former Lehman Brothers' bankers. Like football coach Mike Gundy's patience. Gone.
This leaves OSU in debt on reonvations its already completed. Nice. It also basically cancels the other part of the donation, which was to be an "athletic village" rife with facilities for the basketball teams and OSU's Olympic sports. Either Pickens bails out Oklahoma State with his own wealth, or OSU better start raising its popcorn prices. Basketball season's going to be expensive.