Financial Straits of Boosters Hit Athletic Programs

Nearly three years ago, the billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens donated $165 million to Oklahoma State’s athletic department so it could remake its facilities into a Shangri-La for Cowboys sports, complete with an indoor practice center and new facilities for baseball, equestrian, soccer, tennis, and track and field. Pickens was so true to his school that he also allowed Oklahoma State to take out a $10 million insurance policy on his life.

Those funds, along with $37 million from other donors, were invested in BP Capital Management, a hedge fund controlled by Pickens. At the time, it looked like a windfall that would keep on giving. Instead, Pickens recently acknowledged that his investments had lost $1 billion this year amid the financial crisis.