Oklahoma State University Gambled On Boosters' Lives; Lost $33 Million

By Kris Hughes

Oklahoma State mega-booster T. Boone Pickens is a plenty of things to many different people.

To some, he’s the primary benefactor to OSU’s athletic program.

To others, he’s one of the richest magnates in the United States, who has lost and re-earned a personal fortune worth more than most of us will earn in our entire working lives.

On the side, Pickens is the creator of the Pickens Plan to turn our citizens toward renewable sources of energy and away from a dependence on foreign oil.

It turns out, however, that T. Boone’s most recent investment “advice” may indeed be the strangest, and most potentially damaging, of his entire business and personal career. According to multiple sources, the Oklahoma State athletic department took out life insurance policies worth a total of $10 million on several elderly boosters in 2007 as part of a fundraiser crafted by Pickens aptly titled, “A Gift of a Lifetime.”

Yes, I’m serious.

In essence, the bet Oklahoma State placed was each of these boosters would pass before the premiums became too expensive, and the University would see a substantial financial windfall in the process. OSU paid a total of $33 million in life insurance premiums before they cancelled the plans in 2009 without collecting a single cent from the insurance plans, because each of the boosters upon whom the plans were written were still walking the earth.

It’s murky waters whether such practice is illegal, but there’s little doubt about the ethics of the practice.

Is it Morbid? Absolutely.

Is it unconscionable to bet with the lives of fellow humans for potential financial gain?

You’re damn straight.

The next time that T. Boone Pickens wants to convince all of us he has our best interests in mind, it may not be a bad idea to peek behind the curtain.


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