A year after deadly crash, Oklahoma State University seeks to update travel policy

by Silas Allen Modified: November 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm •  Published: November 17, 2012
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— A year after a plane carrying two Oklahoma State University coaches, a former state senator and his wife crashed in the mountains of central Arkansas, OSU officials say they plan to propose an updated travel policy later this month.

Saturday marks the anniversary of the accident that killed OSU women's basketball head coach Kurt Budke, assistant coach Miranda Serna and former state Sen. Olin Branstetter and his wife, Paula.

OSU officials plan to bring the updated travel policy before the Board of Regents for Oklahoma State University and the A&M Colleges at the board's Nov. 30 meeting at Langston University, OSU spokesman Gary Shutt said.

University officials are reviewing the proposed policy internally, Shutt said. He wouldn't discuss details of the policy Friday but said it addresses the types of planes employees may use for travel and requirements for pilots on university-related travel.

OSU officials convened a task force earlier this year to review the university's employee travel policy. The committee included representatives from the OSU faculty and administration, as well as aviation experts, alumni and a member of the Board of Regents, Shutt said.

The task force met seven times to review the university's policies and examine similar policies at other universities, Shutt said.

Cause not known

Federal officials haven't yet determined a cause of the crash. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Terry Williams said the agency expects to release an accident report in early 2013.

At the time of the crash, the two coaches were traveling from Stillwater to Little Rock, Ark., on a recruiting trip. Olin Branstetter, 82, was piloting the single-engine Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee. Olin Branstetter, an accomplished pilot and licensed flight instructor, had occasionally flown university employees on similar trips.

Three days after the crash, OSU President Burns Hargis said in an email to former Phillips Petroleum Chairman Wayne Allen, an OSU alumnus, that the university would be looking at the possibility of tightening travel policies that cover coaches.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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