A dispute over charitable donations has brought an end to the Oil Bowl, the annual football game between all-star teams from Oklahoma and Texas.
The Oklahoma Coaches Association announced Thursday that the game would be replaced by a Texas-only all-star game, while organizers of the game said they were hopeful the game could return to its traditional format in 2014.
While OCA Executive Director Milt Bassett said that would happen if the OCA was given its portion of the proceeds from the 2012 game, that seems unlikely.
The Oil Bowl has been staged in Wichita Falls, Texas, featuring teams from the two states, in almost every year since 1945.
The game started in 1938 as an all-star game between two Texas teams.
The Oil Bowl has traditionally split proceeds to Texas and Oklahoma charities.
All of the $18,000 proceeds from this year's games were donated to Shriners Hospitals.
Oil Bowl Chairman Gary Hill said that was something Bassett agreed to in October 2011 after not securing a charity for last year’s proceeds.
“He came down here in January of 2012 when I stood in front of TV cameras and made the announcement and he didn’t say anything,” Hill said. “We talked several times before the game and he never said anything. On the Thursday before the game, I spent three hours in his hotel room and it never came up then.”
Bassett said he decided not to say anything while TV cameras rolled because he didn’t want to ruin the event for the Oklahoma and Texas coaches who had traveled to Wichita Falls for the introductory press conference.
But he said he made clear that the Oklahoma side's half of the proceeds would have to go through the OCA to a charity of their choosing.
“I couldn’t even have decided to do what he wanted to do if I wanted to,” Bassett said. “That’s something I’d have to go to our board about.”
Hill said the first Bassett mentioned of the dispute came about three months after the game when they had an exchange about the money.
“Good, when are you going to send us our money,” Bassett recalls asking when Hill told him the total proceeds.
Hill told him the money had already been donated to the Shriners.
“Until we get our $9-10,000, we’re not going to go back,” Bassett said. “I don’t mind going if they pay us.”
Bassett said the money was to be given to the American Cancer Society. An OCA release said the game was raised $450,000 for Oklahoma charities since its inception. The OCA has also earmarked money for the Easter Seals of Oklahoma in the past.
Bassett said the OCA still made a $5,000 contribution to the ACA despite not receiving Oil Bowl funds.
Since 1945, only twice has the game not been played between Oklahoma and Texas. The Oil Bowl reverted to its in-state format in 1961 due to NCAA regulations and in 2009, severe thunderstorms caused the game to be canceled.
Texas leads the overall series 46-19-1. Oklahoma won last year’s game, 30-20.
For much of its first few decades, the Oil Bowl was a major event, drawing the top Division I talent between the states.
Players like Jack Mildren, Zac Henderson, Bobby Boyd and “Wahoo” McDaniel played for Texas in the game before going on to play for Oklahoma.
Past Oklahoma players include Steve Owens, Steve Largent, R.W. McQuarters, Rashaun Woods and Jason White.
In recent years, though, many of the top recruits have stopped playing in the game as their college coaches started frowning upon their participation and more and more players began college in the summer.