T. Boone Pickens, whose first book "The First Billion Is the Hardest" is a best seller, says his hedge funds are down $1 billion for the year.
"It's my toughest run in 10 years," the Oklahoma State alumnus told the Wall Street Journal.
This being the era of trickle-down economics, there is considerable concern in Stillwater. University spokesman Gary Shutt said Wednesday that work on the $180 million renovation of Boone Pickens Stadium will continue. But last month, athletic director Mike Holder announced that the building of a new football practice facility would be delayed.
Pickens, the most powerful booster in college athletics, has been involved in several controversial moves involving Oklahoma State. He donated $165 million to the university on Dec. 30, 2005, in an apparent move to avoid taxes. The New York Times later reported that the money spent less than an hour in a university charity account before it was transferred to a hedge fund that is controlled by Pickens.
"Sadly, it's another case of a rich man manipulating charity for his own benefit," attorney and former IRS agent Marcus Owens told the Times.
Then there was the "Gift of a Lifetime," which critics labeled a "Death Pool." Twenty-eight individuals in age from 65 to 85 were selected. They were under no financial obligation and only needed to pass a physical exam. OSU Athletics, Inc. took out a $20 million loan to pay insurance premiums, and each time an individual in the program dies, Oklahoma State is set to be paid $10 million. When all 28 have died, Oklahoma State will have been paid $280 million.
Pickens said he got the idea from churches that were generating revenue from life insurance policies purchased for aging members.
And don't forget the eminent domain case brought by Oklahoma State against 87 property owners just north of campus. The university, using Pickens' bankroll, demanded the properties because it wanted to build an athletic village. The big guys won, of course, and work continues to prepare the 80-acre site for the village.