Boosters Busted by Financial Crisis

First, college football programs felt the bite of increased travel expenses due to soaring fuel costs. Now, many are feeling the effects of the current financial crisis due to promised donations that can't be kept by boosters. I won't play this out like it's a tragedy, because let's face it, college football isn't life or death. We play it out that way sometimes when everything else in our lives is stable. We mourn the loss of our proud program to some directional state university that ruined our season because we generally live life without too much to fear. But unlike real tragic situations, the sun comes up the next day and we go about life as usual.

Still, many programs are having to scale back or even halt projects funded by donations due to current events. That's the case with Oklahoma State and T. Boone Pickens.

Nearly three years ago, the billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens donated $165 million to Oklahoma State's athletic department so it could remake its facilities into a Shangri-La for Cowboys sports, complete with an indoor practice center and new facilities for baseball, equestrian, soccer, tennis, and track and field...Now, building on Oklahoma State's athletic village has been held up, and the athletic director, Mike Holder, said the project would have to wait until Pickens's financial situation improved.

Certainly not on the same scale as Pickens and the Cowboys, but the same is true for a lot of the major college football programs around the country.

The loss of billions by wealthy donors in the financial markets has put new projects on hold all over the country. Everyone is having to tighten the belt and adjust the amount of their donations. But if Texas is any indicator of how the rest of the country will react, college football is the last place that donors want to stop giving.

It is perhaps never as bad in Texas than it is in the rest of the country, because love for the Longhorns runs deep and backing them conveys a tremendous status. So Dodds said he was in no hurry to call in the commitments currently on the books, and he had a pretty good idea of how the penny-pinching would play out. "We'll probably see it first in baseball, maybe, and then maybe in basketball," he said. "We've lost a couple of suite holders in basketball, and I think the economy is part of the reason there. I think people will hold on to their football stuff as long as they can."

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