Health keeps booster T. Boone Pickens from Oklahoma State’s opener

For the first time in a decade, Oklahoma State donor T. Boone Pickens was unable to attend the Cowboys’ season opener and meet with the media to give his thoughts on the program.

Pickens, an oil tycoon who donated $165 million to the university in 2006 suffered what he called a “ministroke” in December and, per a statement Pickens issued before OSU faced Tulsa on Thursday, is still battling speech problems as a result. OSU’s stadium was renamed Boone Pickens Stadium in 2003.

“When I began my major giving at Oklahoma State, I had short- and long-term goals,” Pickens wrote in his statement. “Short term, I wanted to be competitive. … We have moved to a new plateau. We’re more than competitive. We’re winners. I’m proud of my contributions. There is always more work ahead to sustain success. Longer term, I want every aspect of our programs to compete for national championships. With [athletic director] Mike Holder’s leadership, his solid staff and the roster of strong coaches across the board, we are getting there.”

Since Pickens’ donation, others have jumped on board, prompting the “athletic village” that was the plan behind his initial donation. OSU’s tennis teams now compete in the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center, featuring indoor and outdoor courts, while the Cowgirl Soccer Complex will be completed in fall 2018.

Pickens, who has clashed with coach Mike Gundy in the past, was immensely optimistic about the Cowboys’ 2017 season.

“I have such a great feeling about our football team this year and our chances to win a national championship,” Pickens wrote. “Mike Gundy is building a great program. And it is a program that achieves a key goal of mine — play by the rules. You don’t have to cheat to win. I’ve gotten to know [quarterback] Mason Rudolph. He’s a great team leader and I know he will have a Heisman season. I wish the very best to Coach Gundy and the team who share my dream of hoisting yet another Big 12 Championship Trophy and salivate at the prospects of hoisting the College Football Championship Trophy.”

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