Oil magnate and Oklahoma State booster T. Boone Pickens criticized Sports Ilustrated’s expose of the Cowboys program on Tuesday, calling it “disappointing” and “not reflective of Oklahoma State University today.”
Pickens, a multi-billionaire, estimates that he has donated $500 million to the school for both academics and athletics. OSU’s football stadium is named after him.
On Tuesday, SI released the first report in a series on alleged improprieties by OSU dating back to when Les Miles was the head coach. Among the allegations was that players received thousands of dollars in bonuses from the program, with some payments coming as recently as 2011 under current coach Mike Gundy.
Pickens released the following statement:
There’s one word I have for the Sports Illustrated reporting on Oklahoma State University: Disappointing.
This series is not reflective of Oklahoma State University today. Many of their sensational allegations go back a decade ago.
There have been wholesale changes at the school in recent years in leadership and facilities. During that time, I have given more than $500 million to OSU, for athletics and academics. Have I gotten my money’s worth? You bet. We have a football program that has a commitment to principled sportsmanship. They understand the expectations we, as fans and supporters, have for the program. We have an incredible and growing fan base, and a loyal group of alums that believe in the character of our players, coaches and administrators.
But I do welcome this scrutiny. If people take the time, it’s an opportunity to better understand where Oklahoma State is today, not a decade ago. It’s a different university today. It’s a better university. If there are areas where we need to improve, we’ll do it.
Which leads me back to my disappointment with Sports Illustrated, and their failure to ask the most important question of all: What’s happening at OSU today?
So far there has been a lot of pushback against the SI series by former Cowboys players. As salacious as the charges are, it probably won’t amount to much more than a public relations hit for the school.