STILLWATER — Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder was relentless in his pursuit to acquire money for the Cowboy football program.
When deciding who to ask for money, billionaire OSU alum Boone Pickens was atop the list.
But getting his $165 gift was easier said than done.
“I asked him for a lot more money than $165 million,” Holder said. “I asked him, multiple times, for $300 million. He said ‘I'm not going to give you that money,' ... for all kinds of reasons.”
So Holder had to get creative. He came up with a game plan that piqued Pickens' interest.
The former OSU golf coach figured out the least amount Pickens could give and still raise enough funds to transform the football facilities. Holder discovered a way to take $165 million from Pickens, invest it in BP Capital and use the money to build new facilities.
“He's like anyone, he likes the discount,” Holder said. “I figured out the least amount of money he could give that we could invest every year and earn 20 percent and over a period of 5-7 years build all these athletic facilities.”
But he didn't want Pickens to feel like a lone wolf in terms of backing the proposed project.
“I knew he loved someone else having skin in the game, being committed,” Holder said. “So the $31 million dollars we had saved with the golf program, I told him if you'll donate $165 million, we'll put the $31 million from golf with it and we will dedicate the earnings off that to build the facilities.
“That shows we're equally committed.”
Holder emailed his proposal on Christmas Day 2005, and two days later he was meeting with Pickens, explaining his proposal.
“He asked me to write on the board how I could do all this,” Holder said. “Then he asked how much I was asking for and I said, ‘$165 million.'
“And he said, ‘OK.' Just like that.”
Just like that ... the landscape of OSU football changed.