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Oklahoma State community reflects on Pickens’ influence as a Cowboy

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Boone Pickens was celebrated Wednesday, September 11, 2019, inside the stadium that bears his name.

T. Boone Pickens gave the Oklahoma State football team extra encouragement before it faced historic rival Oklahoma.

Andrew McGee, an OSU cornerback from 2009-10, said he remembers when Pickens walked into the Cowboy locker room and delivered Bedlam pep talks in the stadium named for him.

“Always, we looked forward to Boone coming in and speaking and addressing the team,” said McGee, the recruiting and communications coordinator in OSU’s Office of Leadership and Campus Life. “Of course, he loved Oklahoma State. We know how important winning Bedlam is for our city and especially for him.”

Pickens died at 91 on Wednesday in Texas after dealing with health complications during the past few years, but his impact permeates the OSU campus.

In a press release, athletic director Mike Holder described how Pickens elevated the football program.

“He was the right guy at the right time to do something about our rusted-out relic of a stadium and give us the hope to win some football games,” Holder said. “He set a good example and gave (donations) at an unprecedented level to change people’s perceptions about Oklahoma State.”

Pickens, an OSU mega-booster and energy magnate, established himself as a Cowboy for life. Fans see his name in capital letters whenever they file into Boone Pickens Stadium to watch football. After learning about Pickens’ death, numerous students shared posts on their Instagram stories to honor him. Many never met him, but his influence is clear to them.

Will Craig, an OSU student from Edmond, grew up going to Cowboy football games and referred to Pickens as “the hero of Stillwater.”

“It’s pretty inspiring that one guy can do everything that he did,” Craig said.

Pickens graduated from OSU, which was then called Oklahoma A&M, in 1951 with a geology degree. His ties to the university strengthened throughout his life with donations to OSU athletics and the School of Geology, but those who spent time with him recognized him for more than his monumental financial contributions.

Marilyn Middlebrook, associate athletic director/academic affairs, described Pickens’ values.

“Mr. Pickens lived life to the fullest; shared his thoughts with those who would listen; always competed at the highest level and believed in honesty, integrity and playing by the rules,” Middlebrook said.

Noah Murphey, an OSU senior from Fort Worth, Texas, said he wishes he could have met Pickens. Murphey said he learned about Pickens before arriving at OSU because of his donations to Dallas’ Perot Museum of Nature and Science, but Pickens’ impact became more apparent to Murphey in Stillwater.

“…Really inspiring that somebody who’s in that kind of position was able to continue a legacy of sponsorship and education at his alma mater,” Murphey said.

OSU’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter, Pickens’ fraternity, tweeted a statement about its prominent alumnus Wednesday afternoon.

“Our entire fraternity has just taken a huge hit,” the tweet said. “Brother Boone was a man who we modeled our chapter around. He was a great leader and an even better man. He was the example of a ‘True Gentleman.’ Long live Brother Boone your legacy will never be forgotten!”

OSU will hold a celebration of life for Pickens in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

“He’s a man who will be greatly missed not just for his generosity but his commitment to excellence in every facet of his life,” Middlebrook said. “It was an honor to have known him.”