There are boosters, and then there are boosters.
In the history of NCAA, no donor has given more to a football program than T. Boone Pickens, an energy mogul and American icon who died Monday at the age of 91, according to ESPN.
There may not be a more passionate person for his or her team than T. Boone Pickens.
In 1951, Pickens graduated from Oklahoma A&M, later known as Oklahoma State University (OSU), with a degree in geology. And after making his fortune in fossil fuels, Boone started giving back to the university in a major way.
Over the years, Boone donated more than $300 million to OSU athletic programs and $652 million to the university in all. But while all his donations were significant, nothing turned heads like his 2006 check to the football program for $165 million.
In many people’s opinion, that donation is what made Oklahoma State football relevant.
Prior to Pickens’ donation, the OSU football program had won 10 games once in its entire history. The donation by Pickens allowed the team to have better facilities, which enabled them to lure in better coaches and players.
Suddenly, Oklahoma State was on the map.
From $2,500 to Billionaire
When it comes to the American dream, there’s no doubt that Pickens lived it. He founded his first company, Petroleum Exploration (later known as Mesa Petroleum), with just $2,500.
That small company grew significantly over the next 30 years to become one of the major players in the oil industry throughout the entire world.
Pickens eventually left Mesa Petroleum to start a natural gas hedge fund, which is when the money really starting to pour in. That was also when Pickens started to write enormous checks to his alma mater — but he also donated big bucks to Republicans like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
He will be greatly missed.