Oil tycoon gives record $165 million to Oklahoma State

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Oil magnate Boone Pickens likes to win. And with the largest donation to an athletic program in NCAA history, Pickens hopes his alma mater will be able to compete with any school in the country.

Pickens announced Tuesday he has donated $165 million to Oklahoma State to help create an athletic village north of the football stadium that already bears the name of the 77-year-old Texas oil tycoon. The money will go toward completing the up-grade of Boone Pickens Stadium and fund changes in a 20-year master plan yet to be approved by university regents.

Pickens, a 1951 geology graduate, noted Oklahoma State has won 46 national championships to rank among the best in the nation but the school has dominated some sports -- including winning 33 championships in wrestling -- while falling behind in others.

"We've been competitive in some areas consistently," Pickens said. "Other areas we have been competitive kind of on a hit-and-miss basis."

The amount of Pickens' donation surpasses the $100 million Las Vegas casino owner Ralph Engelstad gave the University of North Dakota in 1998. Only half that sum was initially intended to build a hockey arena, but the project eventually consumed the entire gift.

Pickens' money will go toward creating a bowl in the football stadium's west end zone -- a project that will cost $120 million -- and $300 million in new facilities included in the athletic village.

Pickens hatched the plan for the record-setting donation over a series of quail hunting trips with Mike Holder, who led Oklahoma State to eight national titles in golf before becoming the school's athletic director in September.

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