POSSE Magazine - Winter 2023

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4 WINTER 2023

BACK ON THE MOUNTAINTOP Climbing a mountain. It’s the metaphor that Dave Smith, Oklahoma State Director of Track & Field and Cross Country, uses when describing to his athletes the journey to greatness. “Everyone, when they start their journey, sees the top of the mountain, and the climb doesn’t look that bad,” Smith said. “What they don’t see is all the dark, cold and lonely nights on the side of the mountain. It’s those moments that determine who will and who won’t make it to the top.” One of those nights for OSU came Nov. 19, 2022, when the Cowboys and defending national champion Northern Arizona became the first teams in NCAA history to have the national title decided on a tiebreaker, which OSU lost 3-2. “Over 70,000 meters worth of racing between each team, and it came down to a tenth of a second, which is simply unbelievable,” Smith said. Fast forward to August, when a revamped Cowboy squad traveled roughly two hours north for their annual preseason cross country retreat. The squad participates in several team-building exercises such as a beach volleyball tournament, mandatory skit for all the newcomers and a name game where everyone goes one-by-one trying to memorize the nearly 80 members of the roster and staff. “The idea behind the retreat is getting the newcomers integrated into the team in an environment where people aren’t distracted or running back to their dorms or apartments,” Smith said. “Out at camp, the cell service isn’t great, the Wi-Fi isn’t great, and we’re put in an environment where we’re living in the same rooms and eating in the same places and spending time together for an entire week.”


The expectations for the 2023 team were high from the beginning, with the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason coaches’ poll having the Cowboys ranked No. 2 behind NAU. In perhaps a twist of fate, all three of Smith’s previous national championship squads have come when the team is ranked second in the national preseason poll. However, it was not all sunshine and rainbows for the Cowboys this season. There were several points when Smith was unsure of how fit and healthy his squad would be when the national meet rolled around. • Superstar Alex Maier picked up a knee i n j u r y d u r i n g th e s u m m e r th at prevented him from training until the last week of September. • Three-time All-American Victor Shitsama over trained midseason and placed 45th at the Big 12 Championships. • Freshman Brian Musau came in as a middle-distance runner and was forecast as a year or two away from seriously competing on the grass. But between the Cowboy Jamboree on September 23 and the Big 12 Championships on October 28, OSU started putting the puzzle pieces together. Maier returned from his injury. Musau began showing his potential on the grass. Indoor 3,000-meter national champion Fouad Messaoudi returned to training after a track season that extended late into the summer. The Cowboys finally rolled out their entire lineup at the Big 12 Championships in Ames, Iowa, showing a glimpse of their

true potential with a 30-point victory over No. 3 BYU and No. 6 Texas. Musau dominated the competition, winning the Big 12 individual title in just his second career cross country race, shattering any notion that he wasn’t ready to compete, setting a school and course record along the way (22:46.6). But while it was Musau and runner-up Maier who stole the headlines, Cowboy veterans Will Muirhead and Jonas Price saved the day for the Pokes with eighth- and ninth-place finishes as Shitsama and freshman Denis Kipngetich had slightly off days. The conference title was OSU’s fourth in a row and 13th in the last 16 years under Smith. After a week away from competition, OSU once again picked apart the competition at the NCAA Midwest Regional meet at the Greiner Family OSU Cross Country Course. The Cowboys scored just 19 points as they finished 1-2-3-5-8 on their way to a regional title. All the work was complete. The only thing left to do was race. For just the second time all season, the Cowboys packed up and hit the road with only one thing in mind: reach the peak. Hosted by the University of Virginia at Panorama Farms, the race was billed as a heavyweight bout. Top-ranked NAU and No. 2 OSU couldn’t be any closer, with the two programs separated by just a single vote in the final USTFCCCA poll heading into the championships. Smith knew on the right day his team was better. The only question was: is it going to be the race day?


“The better you are, the more you worry something could go wrong,” Smith said. “The better you think you are, the more there is to lose. When you think you have a chance to win the national title, those don’t come around very often.” As he always does, Smith agonized over the decision of who would make the final seven that would run for the title in the orange and black. In the final team meeting the night before the race, the previously struggling Shitsama made his case when asked if he was ready to go. His response was yes — in somewhat colorful language. It was the response Smith was looking for, and he put Shitsama’s name down alongside Adisu Guadie, Kipngetich, Maier, Messaoudi, Muirhead and Musau as the final championship lineup. As the gun fired and all 255 men sprinted away from the starting line, it was immediately clear the title was going to be earned, not given. Drew Bosley from NAU came through the first 1,000 meters in 2:29.0, which is sub-four-minute mile pace. With each passing kilometer, the Cowboys and Lumberjacks separated themselves

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from the rest of the field, with the pair tied and holding an 79-point lead over third-place Arkansas through 4K. From that point forward, OSU showed no mercy. Over the next 3,000 meters, the Cowboys dropped another 43 points off their score and took a 36-point lead into the final stretch. NAU tried to mount a comeback over the final 3,000 meters, but it was simply not enough to counter the dominance displayed by the Pokes. OSU placed five runners in the top 15 as Kipngetich (fourth), Musau (eighth), Messaoudi (tenth), Shitsama (12th) and Maier (15th) combined for the third-lowest score at the national championships since 2000 with 49 points overall. NAU was second with a score that was much improved over their national championship total the previous year. There would be no tiebreakers needed this time as the Cowboys and Dave Smith were officially back on top of the mountain for the first time since 2012. NCAA title No. 53 was finally coming back to Stillwater five years after men’s golf won at home in 2018.

But even while the celebrations were taking place, speculation began about another potential dynasty headed by Smith. Maier is the only member of the team without any eligibility remaining, and Kipngetich, Musau and Messaoudi each hold multiple potential years left in the orange and black. But as Smith knows perhaps better than anyone, the top of the mountain is just the beginning. “For any mountain climber, the most dangerous time is when you get to the top,” Smith said. “Because once you get to the top and start to feel good about yourself, you start to relax and think you’ve done it … and then you fall off.”

Bedlam Photo Gallery


Going For Gold at the GTC



Wrestling Looks Ahead


New (Orange) Blood


Partnering Up


From College Life to Real Life


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80 Parting Shot 40 The 150 60 The Honor Roll
















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EDITORIAL 405.744.1706

At Oklahoma State University, compliance with NCAA, Big 12 and institutional rules is of the utmost importance. As a supporter of OSU, please remember that maintaining the integrity of the University and the Athletic Department is your fi rst responsibility. As a donor, and therefore booster of OSU, NCAA rules apply to you. If you have any questions, feel free to call the OSU Offi ce of Athletic Compliance at 405-744-7862. Additional information can also be found by clicking on the Compliance tab of the Athletic Department web-site at okstate.com. Remember to always “Ask Before You Act.” Respectfully, BEN DYSON


8 WINTER 2023

The Edmon Low Library tower glowed orange in celebration of OSU's Bedlam victory.


Donations received may be transferred to Cowboy Athletics, Inc. in accordance with the Joint Resolution among Oklahoma State University, the Oklahoma State University Foundation, and Cowboy Athletics, Inc. POSSE magazine is published three times a year (Fall, Winter, Spring) by the Oklahoma State University Athletic Department and the POSSE, and is provided to current members of the POSSE in print or digital format based on annual giving level. Magazine subscriptions available by membership in the POSSE only. For membership information, visit okstate.com/posse. To change a mailing address, call 405-744-7301 or email posse@okstate.edu. Postage paid at Stillwater, OK, and additional mailing offices. Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 401 General Academics Building, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-4069; Phone 405-744-1156; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies. Any person (student, faculty or staff) who believes they are experiencing discrimination may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU's Title IX Coordinator, 405-744-1156. This publication, issued by Oklahoma State University as authorized by the Senior Associate Athletic Director, was printed by Modern Litho at a cost of $2.87 per issue: 3,000. | December 2023 | Copyright 2023, POSSE magazine. All rights reserved.


At OSU, opportunities are abundant. We provide great scholarship programs to help students elevate their success and academic excellence. For maximum scholarship consideration, encourage the high school senior you know to apply to OSU by Feb. 1.

10 WINTER 2023

SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST Cowboy fans young and old celebrated Oklahoma State's 27-24 BEDLAM VICTORY on Nov. 5 at Boone Pickens Stadium. The game marked the final regular-season matchup between the in-state rivals for the forseeable future. OSU photographers captured many memorable moments from a gameday that won't soon be forgotten.


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Award-winning country music artist Dustin Lynch performs at the pregame Hall of Fame Block Party.


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Former All-American tailback Ernest Anderson served as the game's Orange Power VIP.


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BLUEBONNET BROTHERS Members of 1983 Cowboy football team reunited on Bedlam weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Bluebonnet Bowl. Led by head coach Jimmy Johnson, Oklahoma State defeated Baylor 24-14 in Houston's Astrodome. Johnson, along with his successor Pat Jones, spoke to attendees at a Friday night social that included former Cowboy player and assistant Houston Nutt, as well as College Football Hall of Fame inductee Leslie O'Neal. Team members gathered for a pregame tailgate Saturday before being introduced to the sold-out Boone Pickens Stadium crowd at halftime.







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The ledger is known by most Oklahoma State folks. OSU has accumulated 53 NCAA team championships, all won by men’s teams. The trophies are spread out over five sports: wrestling (34), men’s golf (11), men’s cross country (5), men’s basketball (2) and baseball (1), A National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) championship claimed by Larry Sanchez’s Cowgirls is OSU’s first national title on the women’s side. However, because equestrian is still considered an “emerging NCAA sport” by the governing body, it is not yet part of OSU’s NCAA championship haul — officially. All of this fanfare is a simple way of saying that the race is still on for OSU’s first NCAA women’s team title, and the stars just might be aligning, literally and figuratively, for a potential title run by OSU this spring. With a revamped roster and high expectations, Oklahoma State will host the 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships at the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center on the OSU campus in May. And head coach Chris Young’s Oklahoma State Cowgirl squad has expectations of being a title contender. “I definitely think we are a top-10 team,” said Young, who is now in his 15th year of leading the program. “North Carolina is the defending national champion and has everyone back, and I think Stanford is better than it has been in a while, so there will be some teams right there with us. “We’re going to have the schedule in the spring to find out for sure.” When one hosts the national championships, title contenders are willing to come to town to gain knowledge of the facilities in advance of the NCAAs. As a result, the OSU women’s tennis program is about to face perhaps the toughest schedule in school history. Oklahoma State hosts Michigan and Ohio State in January, the return matches from last spring’s visit to Big Ten country by the Cowgirls. The Wolverines were 25-4 a year ago and reached the elite eight of the NCAA Tournament. That overall record included two wins over OSU. The Buckeyes were in the Sweet 16 and escaped their match with the Cowgirls by a 4-3 count. The defending champion Tar Heels visit the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center on Feb. 2, and perennial power and 2023 Sweet 16 participant Pepperdine is in town just two days later. The Cowgirls will travel to Arizona State, and other national matchups are likely to be awaiting at Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) events, which feature only the top teams in America. Excluding in-season tournament play in which opponents are still to be determined, OSU’s 2024 opposition has combined to win 25 national championships.

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CLOSE CALLS It’s important to note that even though no Cowgirl athletic squad has brought home the gold trophy, OSU women’s programs have long been competitive on a national basis and have been a key cog in OSU’s three straight top 25 finishes in the Learfield Cup, which grades America’s athletic departments on their national finishes. The national titles have been elusive, but not out of reach. The Cowgirl soccer program has twice reached the elite eight of the NCAA Tournament before losing to the eventual national champion both times (Notre Dame and Stanford). Women’s golf has finished second, and softball has multiple third-place finishes in the College World Series. The women’s cross-country team finished third this fall, the best national finish in program history. Which brings us to women’s tennis. In 2016, when the NCAAs were being contested at the University of Tulsa, the Cowgirl tennis squad ignited the fan base with a run to the national championship match and an eventual finals loss to Stanford in nail-biting fashion. The following year OSU advanced to the elite eight. And now, thanks to a stacked roster and a potential homecourt advantage, 2024 represents perhaps the best opportunity for a national championship since that thrilling team of 2016. “I think this team matches up, talent-wise, on paper,” Young said. “Our 2016 and 2017 teams had women that were very established on the collegiate level, but you look at this year’s team and you have the highest ranked player in program history with Ange Oby Kajuru at No. 2 and Anastasiya Komar not far behind at No. 13. Lucia Peyre (No. 53), Ayumi Miyamoto (No. 60) and Safiya Carrington (No. 62) are all highly ranked, and we’ve got Kristina Novak, who played in the top spot for us a year ago, returning.” The Cowgirls also have two of the nation’s top doubles tandems, with Kajuru and Komar ranked No. 6 after reaching the fall national championship final and regional championship finals, while the combination of Komar and Raquel Gonzalez is currently No. 12. The national runner-up team was a squad that developed over time, with several of them putting in three and four years in Stillwater with the march to the finale the culmination of player and program development. “That team was sort of homegrown,” Young said. “They progressed, and people became really enamored with them because they watched them here every year. “This year will be different.”

The Cowgirls’ national runner-up finish at the 2016 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships remains the highest NCAA finish ever for a women’s team at Oklahoma State.


THE LINEUP Oklahoma State is coming off a 16-8 season, which included a 7-2 record in Big 12 play. OSU was eliminated in the second round of the tournament by No. 6 Stanford. It was a strong season with a couple of narrow misses against the nation’s best teams. And it set the table for 2024. “I think we have a good mix of older and younger players,” Young said of his new-look team. “We also have some players that had the option of using the COVID year, so that is an advantage. I didn’t want to bring in a lot of young players the year we are hosting. It’s really hard for a freshman to have an impact with the pressure that goes with hosting. “We wanted to get out there and see if we could find girls that were more established, and so we brought in three transfers, and that was definitely intentional to bring in people with experience. But even with that mindset, we have a couple of them who have multiple years left to play, so they will continue to grow with us.” With the influx of talent and a revamped roster, it might be easy for the returning student-athletes to get lost in the shuffle. But the punching power of the newcomers has been a positive for everyone involved. “I think the returning kids are excited,” the head coach said. “I think from day one of practice, everybody could tell this was a different group with the competitiveness of the new girls. But I think we were able to get off to a good start with this team gelling together and competing against each other. And I think what we have been missing the last couple of years is that day-to-day competitiveness.” The newcomers are instant headline grabbers. Now a junior at OSU, Komar earned All-America honors at LSU last year as a singles and doubles player. Kajuru helped lead Iowa State to the elite eight a year ago, by far the best campaign in Cyclone history. She earned Big 12 titles in singles and doubles and was arguably the best player in the league as a sophomore. Fifth-year senior Safiya Carrington was another all-SEC pick from LSU who will finish her eligibility as a Cowgirl. “Komar will remind people of (former Cowgirl All-American) Victoriya Lushkova,” according to Young. “She is a tall, strong, powerful kid. And being a top-10 player last year as a freshman in both singles and doubles is hard to do.” “Oby Kajuru is someone who will fight for every point,” he added. “She’s a great competitor with a big game from the baseline. She will establish herself in singles and doubles. Carrington also has a very powerful game with a big serve. I think that’s what is going to be different this year. This team is going to be very explosive with a lot of big serves. First strike tennis. We will impose our will on people a lot more than in the past.”

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Newcomers Ange Oby Kajuru, Anastasiya Komar and Lucia Peyre are expected to be significant contributors for the Cowgirls in 2023-24.

Newcomers are always bright and shiny and objects of attention. But there is plenty of firepower among the returning players, starting with the sophomore Peyre. “This summer, she probably had the biggest jump in her professional ranking of any collegiate player in the country. She moved up over 400 spots,” Young said. “We have several players who could be considered our best player. It will definitely give us competition at the top of the lineup.” Also returning are the senior Miyamoto, a two-time All-American and 2022 NCAA doubles semifinalist, and sophomore Raquel Gonzalez, an all-Big 12 doubles player. “Everyone expects us to win the doubles point every match because we did that for a number of years,” Young said. “But I do think doubles are going to be a strength of this team. Komar was a doubles All-American, Ayumi is a two-time All-America doubles player. Raquel was an all-Big 12 doubles player and just missed being an All-American, and Kajuru is a really, really strong doubles player. I think that gives us the luxury of four very strong players and seeing what teams can come together.”

The Cowgirls will present a potent lineup in doubles competition led by returning two-time All-American Ayumi Miyamoto.

With a strong doubles lineup all but assured, barring injury, the attention turns to singles play where OSU’s roster would appear to be top heavy in the six positions. “I think getting the lineup in the right spots at the beginning of the season is obviously important,” Young said. “And I think what’s going to make our team strong is the depth at the top and the ability to be more flexible than what we have been over the past few years.” In Komar, Kajuru and Peyre, the Cowgirl lineup has three contenders for national singles honors. “There’s going to be a lot of competition for spots in the lineup,” according to Young. “It’s hard to have a number one type of player in the lineup, and we arguably will have three. I think each of them have the capability of competing with the top players in the country.”

THE EXPECTATIONS Under Young, OSU has gone from the hunter to at least a member of the pack that is being hunted by the rest the country. With OSU’s recent history of on-court success, recruiting coups over the past two seasons, and sterling record on its home courts (OSU is 109-18 at home since the


Greenwood Tennis Center opened), it’s easy to see the high expectations for this year’s squad. But a collegiate tennis season is a long and winding path that stretches over both semesters of the academic year. “I would say we have the talent to compete for a title,” Young said. “But our focus right now is the conference. The champion of the Big 12 has been competing for a national title since we did in 2016. I think we set the mark. So the Big 12 will be our first measuring stick. The second goal is to make the elite eight, which would be right here at home. After that, anything is possible.” Since 2014, Oklahoma State is 65-17 in Big 12 play, the second best record in the league over that span of time. And that mark has come against a league that has produced two national champions and two NCAA runner-up teams since 2016. It is an era in which the league has been dominated by Oklahoma State and Texas. Young’s blueprint for his squad is simple and sensible. “I’m hopeful that in the fall season we established ourselves as a contender,” he said. “I think that’s the goal — to be able to measure ourselves and see where we need to improve. We have the schedule in the spring to find out for sure. We are going to push ourselves right from the beginning with Michigan, which was a top five team last season.” Oklahoma State lost a chance to host the championships when the 2020 spring season and OSU’s role as NCAA host was wiped out by the pandemic. Young and the administration immediately set out to submit another winning bid, and all that it could mean for a program. “Hosting the NCAAs gives our program added respect, not just for our facilities but for what we have built. And it obviously gives us credibility when we recruit. It has helped us the last couple of years because players want to be able to compete on their home courts for a national title. There have been some student-athletes come in over the past two years simply for the chance to win a national title at the same place where they work out every day,” Young said. Managing expectations can be a tricky thing. And that degree of difficulty can be raised when the national competition comes to your front door. But there is a massive tradeoff. The national profile of Cowgirl Tennis will climb to never-before-seen heights when the NCAAs come to town. As was the case in Tulsa in 2016, many Oklahoma State fans are likely to attend their first college tennis match.

WHAT ABOUT THE MEN? For much of the recent history of the Big 12 Conference, it has been the most powerful men’s tennis league in America. In fact, on two occasions Oklahoma State was winless in Big 12 play and still earned a trip to the NCAA

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Tournament and won first-round matches. In 2016, as the OSU women were making their run to the championship match, the OSU men held their own. The Cowboys advanced to the Sweet 16 and fought eventual national champion Virginia tooth and nail before falling. It was the Cavaliers’ toughest test on their way to winning the national championship. The associate head coach for the Cavs was a fellow named Dustin Taylor. Today, Taylor is starting his third season as head coach at Oklahoma State. He arrived in July of 2022 without a single player on his roster, and quietly went to work assembling a squad that would go 14-14 and upset No. 20 Florida in the first round of the NCAAs. For 2024, he has welcomed to Stillwater what some consider the nation’s top group of newcomers. His roster includes two student-athletes who are in the ITA individual rankings, including No. 17 Tyler Zink and No. 48 Alex Garcia. Zink and Isaac Becroft also combine to form the nation’s No. 23-ranked doubles tandem. And newcomer Derek Pham is listed among the ten best freshmen in the country. The tennis postseason for men and women is identical. Sixteen schools are chosen to host four-team regionals. A super regional features two regional champions squaring off on the higher seed’s home courts. The surviving eight schools advance to Stillwater for the national championships — meaning the Cowboys and Cowgirls, if their seeding is high enough, could spend their entire postseason on the OSU campus.

LOOKING AHEAD Playing on campus in front of the friendlies has been a tremendous ignition for OSU teams competing for national titles at home. The men’s golf team won the national championship in 2018 at Karsten Creek, and both cross country teams went to the wire in their national title hopes on the Greiner Family OSU Cross Country Course, with the women finishing fourth and the men finishing second in tiebreaking fashion in 2022. In 2024, the tennis squads get their turns in their home facility with national championships on the line. It comes four years later than it was scheduled, thanks to the pandemic. But at long last, the Greenwood Tennis Center will get to do what it constructed to do — host championships. And the Cowgirls and Cowboys will get a chance to do what they have always wanted — play on the biggest stage in American collegiate tennis, in front of fans wearing America’s Brightest Orange.


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BEDLAM WINNER Cowgirl wingback Alex Morris celebrates her game-winning goal as teammates Chloe Wright (5) and Hannah Chance (2) rush in. The senior's goal on Senior Day broke a scoreless tie in the 83rd minute to give Oklahoma State a 1-0 victory over Oklahoma. More than 3,000 fans attended the Oct. 23 Bedlam match, which marked the second-largest home crowd ever at Neal Patterson Stadium.






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BIG 12


PHOTOS BY OSU Athletics archives


Maybe, just maybe, the world of college athletics would be much different today if Cliff Speegle would have had more success as a head football coach. Speegle was the Cowboys’ football coach from 1955 until 1962. His Oklahoma A&M and Oklahoma State football teams were a lackluster 36-42-2. His squads never beat rivals Oklahoma or Arkansas, and he departed Stillwater prior to the 1963 season. Speegle continued to coach at various levels and was ultimately hired by the Southwest Conference (SWC) to oversee football officiating. He would become the league’s commissioner in 1973. Speegle landed the job at the SWC at the urging of Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles and Texas athletic director Darrell Royal. This was one of the few things — at the time — Broyles and Royal would agree upon. Chuck Neinas had a different track en route to the commissioner’s role at the Big Eight Conference. He was not a former coach and didn’t come from a campus background. He was on the NCAA staff and a natural choice to take over leadership of the league when Wayne Duke departed for the Big Ten’s commissioner job. Neinas’ roles at the NCAA put him into proximity to the commissioners of the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-8, WAC, SEC, Big Eight and other “major college” football playing leagues. When Speegle passed, Oklahoma State great Dick Soergel recalled Speegle had the “highest integrity” and Neinas himself told the Daily Oklahoman: “To those of us in the commissioners’ ranks, he was our most respected brother.” Speegle and Neinas were cut from the same cloth, bonded as colleagues and were close friends. But even the highly-regarded, and well-respected Speegle could not placate Arkansas’ perspective as the outlier in the Texas-centric SWC, where Texas and Texas A&M wielded the most power. Despite the fact it was a name-brand school, competed well regionally and nationally in all sports — and its athletic director, Frank Broyles, was an ABC football color commentator alongside Keith Jackson each Saturday — the Hogs believed themselves to be on the short end of the stick in most SWC decisions. Every revenue discussion, every scheduling issue, every sportsmanship complaint, every matter important to Arkansas seemed to favor some team from Texas. Whether real, perceived or just paranoid, Arkansas felt like the proverbial bastard-step-brother-in-law rather than an equal partner. They wanted out of the SWC and were seeking a landing spot. So … Broyles approached Neinas about joining the Big Eight. As anyone who has lived through college realignment since the early 1990s can attest, it is abundantly clear these things

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are done in a most clandestine fashion. Even in the early 1970s — a period without the endless 24-hour news cycle and a Twitter/social media universe — discussions of this nature were as stealth as possible but could only be kept secret for a brief period. Broyles was astute and low-key. He approached Neinas informally to gauge the interest of the Big Eight. But the Big Eight commissioner was clear, he would not act or react to any request or discussion without informing his good friend Speegle. It was there the discussion cooled, if not died. By the end of the ’70s, Neinas had departed the Big Eight, at the urging of nearly everybody in college athletics, to lead the College Football Association. Formed shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Oklahoma and Georgia (against the NCAA pertaining to television rights), the CFA was designed primarily as a lobbying group to stand up for the rights of the major football playing institutions against the voting power of the entire NCAA Division I structure. Many believed the CFA was formed solely to help administer, negotiate and regulate television rights … in part, maybe; but that was not its primary role. Neinas was the right person for the job. If nothing else, Carl James was prudent. As Neinas’ replacement at the Big Eight, he was more of a “make-the-trains-run-on-time” leader. James preferred the conference office take its lead from the membership on action items, rather than setting the agenda. He directed his staff to build great championships, maximize television opportunities, return as much revenue as possible to the membership and provide great services in academics, officiating and enforcement. Less than two years into James’ tenure, Speegle would retire from the Southwest Conference and be replaced by MAC Commissioner Fred Jacoby. This was the opportunity the Razorbacks had been seeking. Seizing the moment, Broyles asked James for a meeting. James listened. James pondered. James worked behind the scenes to gauge the interest from his membership … managing to do so without revealing an agenda. He told Arkansas there was no interest. It is unclear if Broyles was working Big Eight athletic directors behind the scenes, but he approached James a second time. Arkansas was a natural geographical fit. This time the Big Eight boss agreed to take the request to the membership; but he was not sold there was a positive impact. The Razorbacks travelled well in football and the addition would have guaranteed a huge increase in fans per home football game for the current Big Eight schools. Except for Colorado, every Big Eight opponent was within a

Former Oklahoma State football coach Cliff Speegle became commissioner of the Southwest Conference in 1973.

six-hour game day drive. Play Oklahoma State in Stillwater in even years, with Arkansas at home in odd years and the Oklahoma State ticket office could not have printed enough season tickets. It would have guaranteed greater on-campus basketball attendance as Arkansas was building quite the program under a head coach named Eddie Sutton, and the already sold-out Big Eight Tournament in Kansas City would have reached new heights. But were the future television dollars there? Arkansas is not a high population state. The Hogs were a strong national television attraction and having your AD sit beside Keith Jackson every weekend didn’t hurt their coast-to-coast appeal. Largely due to the James’ influence the answer was still no. He believed this decision was prudent not only for the Big Eight but also for the SWC … and the enterprise of college athletics overall. Expansion of this type would have a long-lasting impact on all of college sports and that might not be good for the faithful. Also, it was clear the Big Eight athletic directors could do the math in a cash-strapped era — eight mouths to feed were enough. It’s tough to cut a pie nine ways!

During this period, the Big Eight shared football and basketball gate revenue on a sliding scale/percentage basis. Additional revenue sources were the NCAA basketball championship, the Big Eight Tournament, a football telecast deal with ABC and a regionally syndicated basketball package produced by various entities after 1984. Prior to 1984, the NCAA controlled all of college football telecast rights and fans were limited to eight weekends with one, single nationally televised game. On five weekends there were a handful of regionally televised games. The Big Eight’s footprint was roughly eight percent of the television households nationally. The state of Texas was about eight percent as well. Arkansas did not move the needle much for either conference financially. Perhaps the Big Eight was being short-sighted, but there was no real consensus to alter the structure of regionality. There was no interest in altering the current collegiate model. There was no incentive to pursue change. It wouldn’t take long for the collegiate landscape to transform. There were independents — like Penn State, South Carolina, Florida State — that were struggling with scheduling, television rights and common collegial purpose.


They needed a home. And as for Arkansas? The door finally opened around 1990 when the Hogs joined South Carolina in the expanded SEC. The CFA remained a strong organization even though the Big Ten and Pac-8 were not members of the group. In fact, the two conferences benefitted from the impact the CFA was having on NCAA legislation related to recruiting, grants-in-aid, coaching limits and transforming the voting power within the national structure. The transformation continued as television rights fees began to register small increases. This change was primarily due to the emergence of a small cable television entity with huge aspirations. It was the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, or, ESPN. It wouldn’t stay small for long. In short, the Big Ten and Pac-8 already controlled their own rights, and then the SEC left the CFA package and went out on its own. This was huge news at the time. Jacoby, the SWC commish, called James. The two agreed there should be informal discussions on strengthening the two conferences in the marketplace and such ensued via phone calls, faxes and sidebar discussions during Collegiate Commissioners Association meetings. James agreed to a more formal sit down but thought a commissioner-to-commissioner meeting might raise awareness to a level he was not seeking. So, he dispatched an assistant commissioner to meet with the SWC boss. The Big Eight developed information on possible football scheduling alliances, football television negotiating opportunities, football officiating alignments and other pertinent topics. With materials prepared and approved by James, the assistant went to Dallas on a Thursday morning prior to the annual Oklahoma-Texas football game to meet with the SWC commissioner. The SWC staff was equally prepared. But instead of a one-on-one meeting with Jacoby, the Big Eight representative sat down with Jacoby and several SWC staffers. The discussion centered on football, but basketball, baseball and other sports were on the agenda. The SWC was proposing a full-blown merger of the two conferences. The Big Eight rep was a bit befuddled … this was beyond expectations. On Monday, James was apprised of the discussions and called Jacoby to indicate the scope of the SWC presentation exceeded his current comfort level. Jacoby explained the presentation was an outline of the “possibilities” of how a great alliance could be implemented in stages. James had his doubts and thought it to be a hard sell to his conference membership.

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The landscape of college football, much like the OSU campus, was radically different at the Big 12’s formation in 1996.

Unbeknownst to James, Oklahoma AD Donnie Duncan and Texas AD DeLoss Dodds were monitoring the national landscape and having discussions of their own, perhaps that very weekend. Dodds had gleaned from insiders that in the next television negotiation each league would likely earn approximately $8 million per year. Duncan’s intel confirmed those numbers. Pressed further, it was determined the Big Eight plus Texas and Texas A&M (10 teams as opposed to 16) would generate the same revenue — $16 million total. Dodds, a former Kansas State coach and athletic director and Big Eight staff member, had long been concerned about the lack of financial commitment many of the current SWC members were making to football. He believed they were surviving financially at the expense of the Longhorns and the Aggies and not putting enough money back into the coffers. Duncan convinced Dodds all the members of the Big Eight were committed financially to expanding athletics within their schools and the conference. Texas and Oklahoma could both benefit from this partnership. Politics is tough in the state of Texas. Texas and A&M were not going anywhere without Texas Tech and Baylor. The cracks in the SWC began to show. So there was a plan to split the pie 12 ways; and, with 12 members came two divisions. The revenue from a football championship game would likely pay great dividends. James was not a fan of the plan. He knew this could, and probably would, start a chain reaction down the line that would change the face of college athletics. But he was loyal to the Big Eight members, even if it meant the SWC could cease to exist. And what about loyalty? You can’t deposit it in a checking account. It brought joy to only a few when the Big 12 was formed and officially opened its doors for business on July 1, 1996. The first television contract for the Big 12 (1996-97) was for $22.5 million (or $100 million over four years). ABC/ESPN balked greatly at the amount and agreed to allow the Big 12 a second television package with selections allowed after the network made its primary picks. Thus, a new player emerged in the TV landscape as the Big 12 opened the door for FOX Sports to enter the marketplace. It is interesting to note the initial combined offer from ESPN and FOX was for $97 million over a four-year period. In the final stage of negotiations Nebraska athletic director Bill Byrne, unrehearsed and without input from anyone else on the Big 12 side, looked FOX representative Dave Almstead directly in the eyes and said, “you know $100 million sounds a helluva lot better than $97 million.” Almstead smiled, tilted his head to the right and said, “Deal.”


The Big 12 got a quick raise and FOX was in the college football business. The contracts amounted to roughly $2 million per year per school, $22.5 million per year. Today, there are single games valued at more than $20 million. The $100 million for the first four years of the Big 12 increased to $123 million for the 2011-12 academic year alone. And by 2022-23 the Big 12 was earning $246 million per year. These amounts were in the middle of the pack based on per-school distribution among the so-called Power Five conferences. Regardless of the conference, there’s never enough in the checking account. And, as previously noted, you can’t deposit loyalty therein. So what has transpired since expansion began in earnest: • The South Carolina/Arkansas move to the SEC, along with Florida State (ACC), Penn State (Big Ten) and others shifts begat the Big 12 beginnings. • The somewhat irrational fear of certain Big 12 members related to the mildly pertinent Longhorn Network begat expansion for the SEC (A&M and Missouri), the Big Ten (Nebraska) and Pac-12 (Colorado). • The Big 12 begat the invasion of non-Power 5 conferences with West Virginia and TCU and then ACC expansion “begated” by all the previous “begatation.” • That move put the Big Ten in an arms race, which begat its own enlargement a second time (USC and UCLA). • That Big Ten expansion, coupled with the popular and wildly profitable SEC Network (and a desire to expand its own appeal) begat the move of Oklahoma and Texas to the east. • And then there is the giant “cluster-mess” that is the current Pac-12 situation … which will begat whatever is left to be begotten. This is where we find ourselves in the autumn of 2023 … perhaps the autumn of the college football enterprise we know it. Of course, another word for autumn is fall. Yes, history can and likely will repeat itself. With a series of phone calls from a hotel room at a DFW Airport hotel, it was soon-to-be-fired Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe who literally saved the Big 12 from extinction in the early begatting. The Pac-12 as we know it will not survive, unless someone has Beebe on speed dial — or someone determines Oregon State and Washington State are just as worthy as Vanderbilt and Northwestern and Boston College. College football needs the west coast — north to south and everything in between. It needs the heartland from the corn fields to the wheat fields to the ranch land to the oil fields. It needs the east coast from the Cape to the ’Canes. It needs what lies between New Orleans and Atlanta. It needs the

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Blue Ridge Mountains to the Great Lakes. And it needs commonality, collegiality and purpose. The Big Eight and then the Big 12 avoided the apparent fate of the Pac-12, which appears to be going the way of the Southwest Conference. Chuck Neinas and Carl James provided leadership that looked at the big picture and knew the importance of loyalty, friendship, collegiality and prudence. They knew what was good coast-to-coast would be good for the industry. It seems like only yesterday the College Football Playoff was held hostage by the demands of the Rose Bowl for the guaranteed presence of Big Ten and Pac-12 teams in the “Granddaddy of them All.” Sorry, PaPa, you are a victim like so many others. Sometime in the future, perhaps two or three generations down the road, in a bar at a fancy resort location, there will be a couple of commissioners sipping an adult beverage, and they will be talking about how nice it would be to have some eight-to-ten team conferences bound by geographical interest playing round-robin competition and determining champions. Perhaps a group of institutions of higher learning in the Northeast could form a conference; and there could be another along the East Coast, one league in the Southeast, one in the Southwest, one conference in the Upper Midwest, one in the Plains states, one in the mountain states and one along the West Coast. If only Speegle had been a better football coach, perhaps he and Chuck Neinas wouldn’t have been commissioner colleagues. They wouldn’t have been commissioner brothers. Neinas would not have felt the need to approach the SWC, and he could have added Arkansas to the Big Eight membership roster. Maybe, just maybe, if Cliff Speegle had more coaching success, the future landscape of college football would make much more sense than what the future became and holds.

Tim Allen spent 45 years in college athletics. A Kansas State alum, he was assistant sports information director in Manhattan during his junior and senior years before being named assistant SID at Oklahoma State in 1978. He spent five years in Stillwater before joining the Big Eight Conference (and then the Big 12) where he eventually became a senior associate commissioner.

TOP: Big Eight commissioner Carl James, OU's Dan Gibbens and Donnie Duncan and SWC commissioner Fred Jacoby participate in a meeting of Big Eight and SWC officials in 1990 (Photo: Jim Beckel). BOTTOM: OSU head coach Dave Smith and Arkansas head coach Frank Broyles during the 1972 game between the Cowboys and Razorbacks.

Realignment and the Scoreboard How has expansion played out since 1990?

For the sake of argument, let’s concede these two points: the modern era of expansion started with Florida State to the ACC in 1991. And let’s clarify the Big 12 was NOT a new league, it was the expanded Big Eight. Under those premises, since the “Power Five” leagues began expanding, only nine percent of the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 football championships were won by new members, and only four percent of their men’s basketball titles were claimed by the carpetbaggers. Also, only four of the BCS/CFP titles were won by expansion teams (Florida State in 1999 and 2013, Miami in 2001 and Texas in 2006). Baylor (2021) is the only institution to win a men’s basketball national title as an expansion team.




AS OF NOV. 1, 2023

1 Boone Pickens – 6,116,027 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Malone & Amy Mitchell Sherman Smith Family Patterson Family Dennis & Cindy Reilley John Clerico W & W Steel, LLC Michael & Anne Greenwood AJ & Susan Jacques Cecil & Frances O'Brate Robert A. Funk Karsten Manufacturing Anonymous #18 Ross & Billie McKnight Vicki & Bob Howard Harold Courson Mike & Robbie Holder Helmerich & Payne, Inc. Jim & Mary Barnes Jerry & Rae Winchester Ken & Jimi Davidson ONEOK, Inc. OSU Foundation Chesapeake Energy Simmons Bank Mike Gundy Joe & Connie Mitchell Jack & Carol Corgan Chad Clay Gary & Claudia Humphreys

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31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59

Baloo & Maribeth Subramaniam Mark & Beth Brewer Lon Kile Kent Dunbar Bob & Addilee Coleman OG&E Watson Family Foundation OSU President's Office Paycom Johnson Auto Family, LLC Greg & Rhonda Casillas Larry & Kayleen Ferguson Russ Harrison Mike & Glynda Pollard David & Tracy Kyle Waits Family Anonymous #4 Bryant & Carla Coffman Richard Bogert Vickie & Tucker Link Foundation Joe & Vickie Hall Les & Cindy Dunavant The Cobb Family Johnston Enterprises Gary & Jeri Sparks Linda & Calvin Anthony Family Trust OSU Business Office Mike Bode & Preston Carrier Anonymous #1

60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88

KNABCO, Inc. RCB Bank Lambert Construction OSU Center for Health Sciences Darton Zink Brad & Margie Schultz Mark & Lisa Snell Joullian & Co Barry & Roxanne Pollard Baab Legacy, LLC Phil & Ruth Terry Z Equipment Ike & Mary Beth Glass Bank of Oklahoma Wiese Family Steve & Diane Tuttle Steve & Jennifer Grigsby Fechner Pump & Supply Atlas Asphalt Products Flintco, Inc. Bill & Marsha Barnes Ed & Kathy Raschen Jana Drummond Barber-Dyson Ford Lincoln Mercury Anonymous #2 E. Turner & Cynthia Davis Steve Tatum Randall & Carol White Matt Holliday

OSU ATHLETICS POSSE POINT SYSTEM The Priority Point System provides a fair, consistent and transparent method of providing benefits to donors in exchange for their financial investments in OSU athletics. Donors gain points three ways: Contributions All current and lifetime contributions (cash or stock) are worth three points per $100 donation. Planned (deferred) gifts in the new Leave a Legacy Endowment Campaign will receive one point per $100. Commitment Donors will earn one point each year for purchasing season tickets (one point per sport annually), as well as one point for each year of POSSE donations. PHOTO LEAH BWOLF

89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119

Jameson Family LLC Bancfirst David & Julie Ronck Chip & Cindy Beaver Brent & Mary Jane Wooten Lindel & Donielle Larison OSU Alumni Association Jay & Connie Wiese K D Greiner Ed Evans Vicki & Jim Click Henry Wells Ron & Jan King American Fidelity Anonymous #3 Chris & Julie Bridges Bank of America Bob Norris Bruce & Sheryl Benbrook Sparks Financial Joseph Eastin Midfirst Bank Elaine & Loren Cook David LeNorman Pam Russell Richard & Joan Welborn Patterson UTI Penny Cupp David Bradshaw John Groendyke Southwest Filter Co.

120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150

Larry Albin John & Kaye Hull Emricks Van/Storage Jerry Marshall Steve & Vicki Farris Andy Johnson Harvey & Donna Yost Austin & Betsy Kenyon Bob & Mary Haiges Griff & Mindi Jones Jay & Fayenelle Helm Edge Services Randy & Pati Thurman Philip Smith Bill & Karen Anderson Vionette & John Dunn Douglas & Nickie Burns JS Charter Investments, LLC Gary & Mary Ellen Bridwell Thomas Naugle Blueknight Energy Partners, LP Ronald McAfee AEI Corporation Wiley McCollum Sandra Lee Brad & Leah Gungoll Drummond Investments Pipeline Equipment Inc. Terry & Martha Barker Kirk & Charlotte Pittman Harrison Investments

Connection with the University Donors (or their spouses) who are OSU Alumni receive a one-time 10 point bonus, as do OSU faculty/staff and letterwinners. Points never diminish and will carry over to subsequent years. Donors retain all previously earned Priority Points in their giving history. For questions about the POSSE Priority Point System, email posse@ okstate.edu or call us at 405-744-7301.

HOW DO MY POINTS RANK? as of NOVEMBER 1, 2023 Points


6,116,027 270,561 87,218 55,434 42,215 36,794 24,960 14,101 7,327 3,463 1,334 527 270 175

1 5 25 50 75 100 150 250 500 1000 2500 5000 7500 8500



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Things are anew for the Oklahoma State wrestling program. From several new high-profile wrestlers to a new assistant coach, the new season for the Cowboys promises to be just as unexpected as what lies ahead beyond this season — such as a new Big 12 Conference wrestling program in Arizona State and a new practice facility dedicated to wrestling. Cowboy coaching legend John Smith spoke to POSSE Magazine on the coming changes. POSSE: You have a highly-touted freshman class that has arrived on campus. What type of impact do you envision them having both this season, and over their Cowboy careers? Coach Smith: The incoming class is the level that we really need to remain focused on. You don’t always get that scenario. I’m hoping that only one of them will have to come out of redshirt. That possibly could be Brayden Thompson (Frankfort, Ill.). I think we’re in pretty good shape with Cael Hughes (Stillwater High School) being able to redshirt, as well as the rest of them. And we would look at Christian Carroll (Elkhart, Ind.) at heavyweight. We just really don’t know at this point. But we’ll really try to stay focused with putting our best team on the mat and really trying to

protect the freshmen redshirts. And so, what does that mean? That means we’re deeper. We’re way deeper than we’ve been in the last four or five years. We’ve got some depth, we’ve got some quality people. We’ve got weight classes that are competitive right now, and that’s really a difference maker for us. We could still see a freshman at 25. We could see a freshman at 41. We could see a freshman at 49. We could see a freshman at 74. We could see a freshman at heavyweight. We could have five freshmen start. And the reason I say we can do that is because they’ve made the weight classes tougher. POSSE: You mention having depth, but also the potential of Thompson being in the starting lineup at a weight class where you have a returning All-American (Dustin Plott). Why do you think he will likely get an opportunity to start? Coach Smith: We’re considering moving Dustin Plott up to 184. He’s really just been in a tough weight class for him to hold his weight. And he’s about as disciplined of a guy when it comes to his weight as anyone we have, but he’s tall. He’s gotten bigger. And we do have that option and we’ll look at that option throughout the (preseason), and most likely, he’ll start at 184 at the beginning of the season. I think

Christian Carroll, Brayden Thompson and Cael Hughes (L-R) are part of a highly touted freshman class.

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the only way that he would move back down is if we see that he’s not strong enough at the weight, and he’s not performing. I think he’s ready to perform at a high level. I think his experiences over the last several years give him an opportunity to kind of see who he is and what he is and making the changes to really make a push at the one thing he hasn’t done, which is win a national championship. POSSE: Based on recruiting rankings, Christian Carroll would be the headliner of this class. He’s coming off yet another trip to a World event. How significant is it to get more guys regularly on World teams? Coach Smith: He’s competing at a high level with making those teams. You know, those teams aren’t easy to make, and we’re going to end up I think with four guys out of the Cowboy Wrestling Club who are going to wrestle in world championships this year. It’s a good sign with those guys. With us putting four different athletes on world teams out of our club is a good move for all of us. POSSE: One of the other highlights of this freshman class is local product Cael Hughes. You and your coaching staff have had the unique opportunity of watching his development since he was very young. How excited are you to be able to work hands-on with him already knowing his potential to develop what he’s shown here in Stillwater over the years?


Coach Smith: That whole group from Stillwater High, including my son, Sam, really have a good view of life, and they’re all competitive in a good way. And more importantly, they’re not afraid to work — maybe that’s something we impart to our club and from being a part of the club. It’s a nice place to be when you see kids that you’re not worried about not staying focused on their academics, staying focused on controlling their weight, being disciplined, being a disciplined athlete. It’s just nice to see that purity in these kids that want to be good — want to be great — and are chasing dreams, both academically and athletically. POSSE: How do you feel your experience having coached your son, Joseph, years ago can help you in managing Sam and any expectations that will fall on him based on the family lineage? Coach Smith: I think Sam’s probably going to have it as tough as anyone. He’s got to get better — got to get a lot better. He’s got to play a role that he probably never played in his life — and that could be as a backup this year and


Returning All-American Daton Fix looks to add a national title to his already impressive résumé.

maybe another year, who knows? I can promise you one thing, he’ll never be in the portal. So, we’re going to stick it out, and I’m proud of him. I look forward to getting to be a father to him during his career. POSSE: Your staff has also been using the transfer portal to your advantage — perhaps most notably is Rutgers transfer Sammy Alvarez, who qualified for the national tournament as true freshman in the COVID season and at times was ranked in the top 10. How has that competition been at 141 pounds between Alvarez and Minnesota transfer Tagen Jamison? Coach Smith: You get blinded by some things, you’ve got to go see them wrestle against opponents. Jamison was hurt last year, the whole year, so he didn’t have much of a true freshman year as far as performance, but that’s okay. I think he’s a hard enough worker, a strong kid, he penetrates well, gets in on the legs. He does some things we’re really encouraged about. POSSE: Carter Young, last year’s starter at 141 pounds, has been recovering from that late-season injury. Where does he fit in within that weight? Coach Smith: Carter’s probably never going to see 141 again. He’s big. I think Carter is probably going to be 149, along with Jordan Williams. I think Carter could grow into 157 someday. We’re seeing with his injury, and the lifting that he did we’ve seen him blow up a little bit, and his body is really just maturing, but 41 — I don’t think we’ll ever see him there again. We have an option to see him redshirt if needed. But until we have somebody that’s stable at the weight class and showing us that they’re capable of taking this thing over, he’s got to be ready at all times. So I’d like to see him redshirt a year, but I don’t know if we can give him one. POSSE: Obviously Daton Fix hasn’t yet achieved that ultimate goal of being a national champion, but he does have the unique opportunity to do something that has never been done in this historic program. He could become the first five-time All-American. Regardless of where he may finish on the podium, how significant could that distinction be to his legacy as a Cowboy? Coach Smith: I think any time you do something for the first time in a program like ours, it’s noteworthy. He’s had a tough weight class — the guy who won the weight class last year was a world champion this year. So we know that he was

48 WINTER 2023

beaten by the best in the world at his weight class at nationals. He’s going to hate to read that, but it’s a fact. That’s what he wants to be, but he’s not the best. So if you want to be the best wrestler in the world, then you got a chance of doing that this year, because the guy is going to be back at your weight class. So for Daton, I think the one thing that is he’s striving for is that title. And that title is hard. POSSE: You had mentioned the potential of a freshman wrestling at heavyweight with Christian Caroll, but you have a returning NCAA qualifier at the weight in Konner Doucet. What have you seen from him in trying to keep his starting job? Coach Smith: I’ll say this about Konner, I don’t know if we really ever had an expectation that he would be the starter, and he’s kind of earned that through hard work and desire. I think he’s held back in some of his matches, and he doesn’t create enough offense to really be able to be an All-American. But he also has had some learning experience and so for that alone, it should make him a lot better and a lot more motivated. His body’s different. I mean, from the time he came in to where his body is right now, Coach (Gary) Calcagno, along with Konner, they both have worked on developing power and strength, and he looks good. We just want you to wrestle as good as you look, and he’s got that capability. He just needs to have a belief system that this can actually happen for him. Now, for Christian Carroll, the lack of confidence is not his problem. He’s tough. He talks a game. He backs up his game. POSSE: What has it been like having Coleman Scott return to the program as an assistant coach after his eight years as head coach at the University of North Carolina? Coach Smith: Coleman Scott has added so much to this program in the short time he’s been here. Just see the experience of a guy that’s been a head coach. He’s given me so much more than I thought. I mean, he’s added things that made me take a couple steps back, and some things that have made me feel old. And it’s all good, though. POSSE: What was the conversation like asking him to leave a head coaching position to return to replace one of your long-time assistant coaches? Coach Smith: I think there’s a level of people that have come through Oklahoma State — whether it be wrestlers or football players or just regular students — who found a deep love of Stillwater, Oklahoma, and the passion around how


we do things. So it wasn’t too hard. Yeah, it was an easy conversation. He made it really easy for me. I didn’t have to promise anything. You know, just excited about the opportunity. POSSE: The national championships will be held in another first-time arena this upcoming season at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, which hosted in 2003 at Kemper Arena. How significant is it for the sport to see these new locations showing interest in hosting the national wrestling tournament?

Coach Smith: We’ve had pretty good experience with what we’ve done with our locker room. What we’ve done in the last few months to our wrestling room — kind of took the chairs out and expanded it by moving mats all the way wall to wall, so not a lot of people can come in and watch anymore. We really needed the space. And we need it. We need more space. It’s not big enough. It’s dangerous. We need it. Period. We can’t go any longer without the space that we need in a wrestling room. We’ve had a pretty good start to raising money.

Coach Smith: The number of cities that are bidding for it in the last five to seven years is pretty exciting to see: Las Vegas, Dallas, New York City and even others like Atlanta. We’ve had a successful event that needs to continue to become even more successful as we move in a great direction. And I think it’s really important during this time of uncertainty with the NIL, the portal, transfers, conferences changing — there’s not a lot of stability in what’s happening, other than some pretty good consistency with wrestling and the NCAA championship being a very successful event.

COLEMAN SCOTT HAS ADDED SO MUCH TO THIS PROGRAM IN THE SHORT TIME HE’S BEEN HERE. ... HE’S GIVEN ME SO MUCH MORE THAN I THOUGHT. JOHN SMITH ON ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH COLEMAN SCOTT POSSE: Wrestling may not be as prevalent a factor as other pieces of the puzzle in conference realignment, so how nice was it to see that one of the new members for 2024 is Arizona State, and its wrestling program, as a full-fledged member? Over the past decade the league has only been adding affiliate members. Coach Smith: (Realignment) is just challenging in recruiting, and bringing in ASU is important. I think we need to continue to look at the remaining schools in the west, hopefully. I think we can really strengthen wrestling by picking up Oregon State and some of these schools, and kind of see how everything plays out in the future. POSSE: Obviously you are old school and would work out on a dirt floor in the basement of Gallagher-Iba Arena, but what aspects of the proposed practice facility are you excited for?

50 WINTER 2023

Former Olympic medalist and NCAA champion Coleman Scott returns to Stillwater from the University of North Carolina.


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AT THE McKNIGHT CENTER The magic of Broadway comes to Stillwater this spring!




An Evening with

COME FROM AWAY Book, Music and Lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein Directed by Christopher Ashley Musical Staging by Ke l l y D e v i n e

JAN 23-24




McKnightCenter.org | Box Office (405) 744-9999 705 W UNIVERSITY AVE, STILLWATER, OK 74074


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David Lindsey didn’t always bleed orange … at least not bright orange. The native of Diboll — a quaint East Texas town of 4,500 in the heart of the Pineywoods — understandably grew up rooting for his home-state Longhorns. In 1978, he matriculated at the University of Texas at Arlington, but the commuter campus environment didn’t seem to infuse the affiliation of a true college town. It wasn’t until 2017 that Lindsey underwent a complete transfusion, thanks to his son.

Lindsey says he was inspired to venture out as young man in his late twenties and create his own business. His entrepreneurial spirit paid off with his first insurance company: U.S. Benefits. “We were basically geared toward groups and lower-income people. We built health insurance plans for employees who were hourly pay and couldn’t really afford health insurance.” Lindsey sold the successful company and began planning his next move. That business model — identifying a need in the market, starting a company, building it from the ground up and then selling it — has been a winning formula ever since. And he’s done it on his own terms. David Charles “DC” Lindsey attended John Paul II “My track record is, I don’t borrow money from anybody,” High School, a private Catholic High School in Plano, part of Lindsey says. “Venture capital firms will bend you over a the DFW Metroplex. As a senior shopping for colleges in the barrel. When you borrow something from somebody they spring of 2015, DC and his family visited a number of think they own you. I’ve done everything without borrowing institutions. money. It’s a hell of a lot less stressful. “Like my dad, I grew up a Texas Longhorn fan,” DC says. “I had the good fortune of having the largest telemedicine “But when I was in high school, I didn’t have the grades to get company in the world at one time,” Lindsey adds. “I built into school there so I was looking at out-of-state colleges. a company called AmeriDoc. I had been at it for about four The spring semester of my senior year of high school, my dad years and had around 2.5 million people insured or under and I went on numerous college tours, including Norman telemedicine. There was a company called Teladoc, and (Okla.), Fayetteville (Ark.), Oxford (Miss.) … and then we went they called me on the phone and asked if we can we have a to Stillwater. meeting in Dallas. I said, ‘Sure.’ And they go, ‘Are you for sale?’ “It was just me and my dad on the campus tour, and I just I said, ‘Yeah.’” fell in love with it. Small town. A family-like environment. Lindsey sold AmeriDoc in 2008 for an undisclosed We only took one visit, and I was like, ‘I’m going to school amount. there.’ At UTA, my dad never really got the gameday college “That’s what I love to do, build and sell companies,” feel so he started coming up to the OSU games and fell in love he says. “It’s my passion in life, and I am very fortunate to live with it, too. At this point we were all in.” my dreams.” “I grew in a small town, so I wanted someplace that DC All the while, Lindsey continued to expand his “empire.” could attend that had that small town charm and community,” “I had other companies rolling, too,” he says. “I was busy. David Lindsey recalls. “I’d never been to Stillwater before, but I started building companies under the holding company, it was amazing how perfect it was for DC. It just fit. When we Lindsey Health Holdings. I built about five, six companies … came here, DC said, ‘This is it. This is where I want to be.’ We We do everything from dental to vision, including the both just fell in love with this place. senior market. “I’m a Texas guy. I went to UTA but didn’t really have a “We have a company called Realm Health, which has a true college experience there. What I love about this place is contract with FedEx and Amazon to supply all their drivers. the major college atmosphere and the people. It’s so perfect. It Plus, a lot of the people you see deliver the packages work for a changed my allegiance from Texas to Oklahoma State.” contractor who may have 10 or 20 trucks, and they come to us to help with health insurance.” Health plans for delivery drivers was an underserved niche that he wanted to tap into, Lindsey explains. David Lindsey graduated from UTA in 1982 with a degree “What you have with FedEx and Amazon drivers, they’re in finance. His first job out of school was with a large Dallas 25 years old. You never see a guy my age getting in and out of a bank, but shortly thereafter he found his calling in the truck 175 times a day, right? So those young drivers are some insurance industry. of the healthiest people on the planet. What nobody really “I worked for American Fidelity Assurance in Oklahoma thought about was that young people don’t want health City for about five years,” Lindsey says. “I became a successful insurance because they don’t think they need it. If you’re 25 national sales manager, but I wanted more — to do my own thing.” years old, you don’t feel like you need insurance.”



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David Lindsey’s association with Oklahoma State began through his son, David Charles “DC” Lindsey.


“So I go to a big insurance company and say, ‘I’ve got 300,000 people that are healthy, and I need a discount and special underwriting’ … and they go, ‘Hell yeah.’ We cover everybody — no health questions asked. It’s amazing. We’ve really served the forgotten market, and it’s worked great.” Lindsey sold a portion of Realm Health in March of 2023 (along with Care Dental in 2022), but still serves as a consultant for both companies he founded. DC, a graduate in entrepreneurship from the Spears School of Business, has been with Realm Health since 2019. As the Director of Benefits, he works with transportation companies to provide healthcare solutions for their employees. “My dad’s a business guy, and I got that from him,” DC explains. “I’m in sales now, and he’s really guided me with his leadership and intelligence. We have a similar personality in the sense that I like to talk, I like to communicate. I love being on the phones and meeting new people. That’s what I wanted to do, I knew it was my path, and my father was definitely a big influence on that.”


The younger Lindsey says his mentor hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down. “He’s got a lot of irons in the fire.” “I’m 65, but I feel 45,” his father interjects. “People go through life, and they don’t find their ‘Why’ and what they want to do. I got lucky. I graduated college, went to work for a bank, and then got an interest in health and wellness. I fell in love with it.” Lindsey says he’s not only focused on business, but personal growth as well. “I have no finish line in life,” he adds. “I just want to keep growing, serving and learning.” One of Lindsey’s ventures helps low-income patients access affordable care. “I bought a company called CareGuide Advocates, which is really cool. If you make less than three times the poverty level — which is about $55,000 — there’s around 4,200 hospitals in the nation that are nonprofit hospitals, which means they have to offer you financial assistance if you qualify. We just took somebody’s $1.2 million hospital bill down to nothing! That’s the kind of stuff I like to do.” Lindsey recently took the reins as CEO of Giovane Medical, a men’s wellness company based in California, now moving its headquarters to Dallas. “In my business, you see the world from a different lens” Lindsey adds. “A large group of the country today is unhealthy, and with health care costs that keep rising it only makes matters worse. In Oklahoma, it’s magnified.

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“It’s about awareness. How do we help people understand that there are small things they can change to improve the quality of their lives and increase their lifespan?”


Last year, Lindsey was approached by University President Kayse Shrum about the Human Performance Innovation Complex, part of OSU’s athletics vision plan. As the home of the Human Performance and Nutrition Research Institute, the state-of-the-art complex will house training and facilities, as well as Cowboy Football operations. With a campaign goal of $50 million, OSU has already secured $35 million in pledges, including a $25 million gift from the Boone Pickens Foundation. Dr. Shrum, along with Lance Walker (Rick and Gail Muncrief Executive Director of the HPNRI), met with Lindsey and other potential donors to discuss the project and its potential. With decades of experience in the healthcare industry, Lindsey seemed a perfect match. “Kayse and Lance talked about how this project is going to change the way people looked at nutrition and wellness,” Lindsey recalls. “People who’ve got that kind of passion, who are going to build something that’s not only going to benefit OSU and the student-athletes, but residents in the state … that’s a big deal. I wanted to help.” Lindsey pledged a generous $5 million to the project. “Kayse’s a pretty good fundraiser,” Lindsey quips, stating the obvious.


Lindsey has also forged connections with other OSU programs in recent years — women’s golf in particular. Cowgirl head coach Greg Robertson heard that Lindsey was an avid golfer so he invited David and DC to play a round at Karsten Creek. “He had never played Karsten before,” Robertson recalls. “It turned out to be a fun day. My boys played with us, as well. As soon as we got done, David went right in and got a membership at Karsten Creek. So we kept in touch, and I’d see him out there when he came back for football games and stuff like that.” Soon, Lindsey was supporting the golf program via the annual Cowgirl Pro-Am. “He’s always very generous — an ‘anything you need, let me know’ type of person. He’s one of the most generous people I’ve ever come across when it comes to wanting to help other people out. And it’s not just golf. It’s other sports. It’s just everything at Oklahoma State in general. It’s huge.


“He’s also helped Pokes With A Purpose towards our NIL (Name, Image and Likeness), so now we’ve got opportunities for our players that we wouldn’t typically have had. We’re really grateful for that. From a chance conversation and a round of golf, it’s developed into a really great relationship.” Robertson says Lindsey has a magnetic personality. “David is one of those guys that’s just fun to be around. He’s always upbeat about things and friendly to everybody that he comes across. He’s very outgoing. He’ll talk to anybody. I can tell that David loves to have fun, so that’s what you see in him when you meet him. He’s a high energy guy.” Former Cowboy defensive end Brock Martin can vouch for Lindsey’s energy as well. “David’s got a personality that’s very easy to be around,” Martin says. “He’s very easy to like and easy to talk to. He’s wise and obviously very successful. He might be the most business-savvy person I’ve ever met. I’ve met a lot of very successful alumni, and he is up there with the best of them. “He bleeds orange, too.” As a volunteer for Pokes With A Purpose, Martin has helped spread the word about supporting the non-profit NIL collective and aid in fundraising efforts. He says David was eager to pitch in.

“I didn’t really have to encourage David at all. I mean it. He just said, ‘How can I help you?’ At that time, I knew he had already committed $5 million for the Human Performance Center that they’re building, and it was kind of hard to ask for more money … but David wanted to give, and he said he’s going to continue to help. He loves it, and he’s up here about every weekend. He’s got a place in Stillwater now. I’m glad that he’s on our side.” Lindsey believes his contributions can serve as a catalyst for the Cowboy family. “I hope it inspires other people to give,” he says. “I want them to think, ‘He didn’t even graduate from Oklahoma State — if he feels that passionate about what’s going on up here, then maybe I can make a difference’ … That would be huge. “What better thing to do than help the university — which is not my alma mater, but I consider it mine — and be with good people. I mean it. Stillwater is like home. I love this place.”

David and DC played in the 2023 Cowgirl Golf Pro-Am at Karsten Creek, along with Realm Health president Roland Brewer and Cowgirl Clemence Martin.

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When OSU announced its scholarship endowment initiative, the athletic program was last in the Big 12. Now, more than halfway through the 10-year program, OSU leads the conference.



Dennis and Karen Wing (2) | Hal Tompkins Sandy Lee | Jennifer and Steven Grigsby Mike Bode and Preston Carrier (2) David and Julie Ronck

But we’re not finished yet.

HALF SCHOLARSHIP Sally Graham Skaggs

OSU awards 229 full scholarships to student-athletes each year at a cost of $4.5 million. Each dollar freed up through endowed scholarships goes back into our programs. Better equipment. Better facilities. Better support. Each dollar has a direct impact on the lives of our student-athletes.


Bryant and Carla Coffman David and Grace Helmer | Jill Rooker Martha Seabolt | Dr. Scott Anthony John and Beverly Williams Richard and Lawana Kunze



This is the list of all the generous supporters who have helped to provide a bright Orange future.

Baloo and Maribeth Subramaniam



They are our Honor Roll.





Bob and Kay Norris Bryant and Carla Coffman / The Merkel Foundation David LeNorman | Dennis and Karen Wing (2) Dr. Mark and Beth Brewer Ike and Marybeth Glass Jack and Carol Corgan Jim Click | John and Gail Shaw Ken and Jimi Davidson | Leslie Dunavant Mike and Kristen Gundy Mike and Robbie Holder Ron Stewart | Ross and Billie McKnight Sandy Lee | Tom and Sandra Wilson Wray and Julie Valentine James and Mary Barnes


Cindy Hughes | Donald Coplin Doug Thompson | Ed and Helen Wallace R. Kirk Whitman | Greg Casillas Jim and Lynne Williams / John and Patti Brett Mike and Judy Johnson | Sally Graham Skaggs State Rangers | Tom Naugle | Nate Watson


Al and Martha Strecker Arthur “Andy” Johnson, Jr. Arthur Couch | Barry and Roxanne Pollard Bill and Ruth Starr | Brad and Leah Gungoll Brian K. Pauling Bridgecreek Investment Management LLC Bryan Close | David and Cindy Waits David and Gina Dabney | Dr. Berno Ebbesson

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Dr. Ron and Marilynn McAfee Eddy and Deniece Ditzler | Flintco Fred and Janice Gibson | Fred and Karen Hall Howard Thill | James and LaVerna Cobb Jerry and Lynda Baker | John P. Melot Jerry and Rae Winchester John S. Clark | Ken and Leitner Greiner Kent and Margo Dunbar | Paul and Mona Pitts Randall and Carol White | Shelli Osborn Roger and Laura Demaree Steve and Diane Tuttle Tony and Finetta Banfield




Terry and Martha Barker

QUARTER SCHOLARSHIP David and Judy Powell Kenneth and Susan Crouch Sally Graham Skaggs

Men's Golf



David and Julie Ronck Dennis and Karen Wing Jack and Carol Corgan Genevieve A. Robinson Baloo and Maribeth Subramaniam


QUARTER SCHOLARSHIP Bob and Elizabeth Nickles Garland and Penny Cupp Richard and Joan Welborn

Men's Tennis


Bill and Roberta Armstrong Bill and Sally Cunningham Donald Coplin | Jill Rooker Richard and Linda Rodgers Jo Hughes and Deborah J. Ernst Richard Melot

Women’s Golf



Baloo and Maribeth Subramaniam Genevieve A. Robinson Louise Solheim


David and Julie Ronck | Dena Dills Nowotny




Women’s Tennis

Tom and Cheryl Hamilton

Amy Weeks | Kent and Margo Dunbar


Graduate Athlete



Men's Track

Jamie Maher Richard Melot




Bob and Joan Hert | Neal Seidle Tom and Cheryl Hamilton

Men's Basketball



Baloo and Maribeth Subramaniam A.J. and Susan Jacques Bill and Marsha Barnes Brett and Amy Jameson Calvin and Linda Anthony Chuck and Kim Watson David and Julie Ronck (1.25) Dennis and Karen Wing (2) Douglas and Nickie Burns Griff and Mindi Jones James and Mary Barnes | Jim Vallion Ken and Jimi Davidson Kent and Margo Dunbar | KimRay Inc. Sandy Lee | Mitch Jones Memorial


David and Julie Ronck Dr. Mark and Susan Morrow Jay and Connie Wiese | Sally Graham Skaggs Stan Clark | Billy Wayne Travis Holloman Family


Dr. Scott and Lynne Anthony Gary and Sue Homsey Michael and Heather Grismore Rick and Suzanne Maxwell Robert and Sharon Keating Steve and Suzie Crowder Terry and Donna Tippens

Jim McDowell Men's


Dr. Mark and Susan Morrow Susan Anderson | Ken and Leitner Greiner


Mary Jane and Brent Wooten




James and Mary Barnes



QUARTER SCHOLARSHIP Tom and Cheryl Hamilton Richard Melot Ann Dyer

Women’s Basketball



Brad and Margie Schultz Ken and Jimi Davidson Mike Bode and Preston Carrier


Baloo and Maribeth Subramaniam Don and Mary McCall John and Caroline Linehan Calvin and Linda Anthony Mike Bode and Preston Carrier



A.J. and Susan Jacques Bruce and Nancy Smith Chuck and Kim Watson Lon and Jane Winton OSU Wrestling – White Jacket Club / Gallagher Endowed Wrestling Scholarship OSU Wrestling – White Jacket Club / Myron Roderick Endowed Wrestling Scholarship OSU Wrestling – White Jacket Club / Ray Murphy Endowed Wrestling Scholarship OSU Wrestling – White Jacket Club / Tommy Chesbro Endowed Wrestling Scholarship The Cobb Family


Mike and Glynda Pollard Mark and Lisa Snell Bobby and Michelle Marandi


Danny and Dana Baze / Cory and Mindy Baze Kyle and Debbie Hadwiger John and Beverly Williams | R.K. Winters

To learn more about scholarship opportunities and how you may contribute, please contact: Larry Reece (405-744-2824) Matt Grantham (405-744-5938) Daniel Heflin (405-744-7301) Shawn Taylor (405-744-3002)



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I was told to use this space to tell the story of how Pistol Pete’s Partners may be the best value in all of Oklahoma State Athletics, but nah, I’m not doing that because there are better stories to be told about Pistol Pete’s Partners and its impact on young OSU fans. Here’s the thing: For many kids out there, going to the games is great, but getting to interact with their favorite Cowboys and Cowgirls is what they really value. That works both ways, too, because many student-athletes will tell you that interacting with fans — ESPECIALLY kids — is one of their favorite parts of being a college athlete. We’ve seen it in our family. Our kids were born right here in Stillwater and have been coming to games since before they could walk. We signed them up for Pistol Pete’s Partners when they were young, and we can tell all kinds of stories about its positive influence on them. Our daughter Cameron gravitated toward Cowgirl soccer player Jaci Jones and Cowgirl hooper Katelyn Loecker when she was young and thanks to her being a Pistol Pete’s Partner, she formed meaningful friendships with both. For Cameron, a typical OSU game day would look like this: watch the Cowgirls play, then stay afterward to visit with her favorites. Often, Jones and Loecker would still be in uniform during those interactions — sweaty, tired, and physically beat up from Big 12 competition, but without fail,

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they’d take that time to ask Cameron how she was doing at school, on her own team and in life. It wasn’t just talk, either. They really cared. There was one time when Jones rounded up a handful of her teammates to watch Cameron play in a 10-year-old rec-league basketball game at an elementary school. They didn’t just attend. They came armed with a giant homemade “We Love Cam!” sign and whooped it up with joy whenever Cameron made a play. Loecker did something similar once at one of Cameron’s soccer matches, bringing OSU teammate Kaylee Jensen (another family favorite) to support Cameron. You can’t put a price on those kinds of moments, but that’s exactly what you get here in a community like Stillwater with a program like Pistol Pete’s Partners. I remember vividly after Jones’ senior day game, standing in the late-October cold at Neal Patterson Stadium with Cameron, who held an oversized print of Jones’ face. Immediately after the game ended, Jones went directly into the locker room area under the stands and out of sight. Cameron was crushed … until Jones re-emerged a couple minutes later and found Cameron, only to have Cameron throw herself into Jones’ arms, sobbing because she thought she wouldn’t get to talk to her favorite player — and friend — following her last home game as a Cowgirl. Jones handled that moment with such sweetness and grace and assured Cameron of how much she meant.

Like Jones, Loecker was a star with kids and Cameron was one of many who looked up to her. I’m pretty sure we saw every single home game of Loecker’s junior and senior seasons because Cameron wouldn’t have it any other way. As it happens with all athletes at one point or another, the end of the line came, and Loecker played her final game in an OSU uniform. A couple days after that, she cleared out her locker in Gallagher-Iba Arena — a heavy moment for her, to be sure. Even then, Loecker thought about Cameron. She grabbed the practice jersey she had used all season and brought it to me with specific instructions to deliver it to Cameron, along with a video message she recorded telling Cameron how much she meant to her. At home that night, I delivered the practice jersey and showed Cameron the video. Cameron got emotional because the connection she formed with her favorite Cowgirl was real. Fast forward to today. A 10th-grader, Cameron is now too old to be a Pistol Pete’s Partner, but she plays two sports for the high school — soccer and basketball. Jones and Loecker would be proud. When our son Hunter was in second grade, OSU hosted a Pistol Pete’s Partners exclusive event with the football team on the Boone Pickens Stadium turf. It was unstructured, unorganized … and perfect. Just hang out with the Cowboys and have fun. It was one of those days where you really get to

appreciate members of the football team as people, not just as players. Hunter found one of the soccer balls that was laying around on the field and tried dribbling through the legs of any Cowboy who would engage with him. Some playfully let him do it but others were too competitive for that and really made him work for it, which he REALLY loved. After that, Hunter grabbed my cell phone and found all his favorite players, including Tylan Wallace, Dillon Stoner, Chuba Hubbard and more and took individual selfies with each. We still have those photos in our family archive to this day. At a similar Pistol Pete’s Partners function a couple years earlier, Hunter went from Cowboy star to Cowboy star challenging them. He walked right up to Justice Hill and told him he could tackle him one-one-one. He told Tre Flowers that he could juke his way right past him. Mason Rudolph? Yeah, he could catch a pass from him and James Washington? He could throw the Biletnikoff Award winner a perfect strike if only Washington was good enough to catch it. I stood by and watched this unfold from a distance as one by one, each player happily gave Hunter the chance to back up his big talk. It was a moment Hunter will never forget and neither will I. Now, Hunter takes great OSU pride in watching those same Cowboys as they play in the NFL. He formed a connection with them through Pistol Pete’s


Partners and, like Cameron, learned that these larger-than-life football players were just people — kind, caring and fun. In a lot of ways, it set the framework for how he now consumes sports. He admires professional and college athletes but views them through the lens of being people first. These days, Hunter makes the most of his Pistol Pete’s Partners membership by attending games, especially baseball. Believe me, we more than cover the cost of his membership just off the number of baseball games we attend. He knows the Cowboy roster like the back of his hand, but even though he is more than capable of following the action, he prefers to wander the O’Brate Stadium concourse to find friends, talk baseball with them and chase after foul balls. For both of our kids, what Pistol Pete’s Partners has provided is a connection — with student-athletes, with friends here in town and with Oklahoma State. That’s the real value of a Pistol Pete’s Partners membership.

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What is it? Pistol Pete’s Partners, presented by Stillwater Medical, is the Official OSU Athletic Kids Club for children eighth grade and under! The kids club offers Cowboy and Cowgirl fans the opportunity to attend over 100 OSU Athletics events for FREE! This club provides kids the chance to become OSU fans at a young age so they are fans for life! Pistol Pete’s Partners is a great way to meet and interact with Cowboy and Cowgirl student-athletes, Pistol Pete and the OSU spirit squad. Members get to attend fan-friendly events with numerous autograph and photo opportunities for kids.

Need To Knows • Membership is $40 per person • Pistol Pete’s Partners Memberships are valid from July-June • Pistol Pete’s Partners members get in free to OSU soccer, women’s basketball, wrestling, baseball and softball home regular season events • Special ticket offers for family members

Benefits • • • • •

Exclusive Pistol Pete’s Partner t-shirt Membership ID card on lanyard Invitations to special Members Only events throughout the year Exclusive ticket deals Birthday card from Pistol Pete.

Pistol Pete’s Partners Round Up E-mail is the primary form of communication with our partners. Our partners will receive the Pistol Pete’s Partners Round Up that includes all the upcoming events and reservation dates for the kids club.

Questions? If you have questions or need more information, scan the QR code, call 405-744-8579 or email pistol.pete.partners@okstate.edu.


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THE GRILL OF VICTORY Members of the Oklahoma State Sigma Nu fraternity man the grill before the Pokes' Friday night tilt with Kansas State on Oct. 6 in Stillwater. The well-dressed crew served up some winning tailgate fare, while the Cowboys knocked off the Wildcats 29-21 to start a five-game Big 12 Conference winning streak.





STORY BY Gabriel Trevino PHOTOS BY Bruce Waterfield

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Jawauna Harding remembers struggling with not knowing where to go next during college. When she was a student in Oklahoma State’s School of Mass and Strategic Communications, Harding didn’t know where to look for internships or opportunities until her boyfriend, and future husband, helped her. She knew she didn’t want others to go through the same thing alone. After graduating and working in nonprofit and in other communications roles, Harding returned to her alma mater to work in career services and consulting. She did that for 13 years, and always knew OSU needed something for its student-athletes, but no such thing existed. Until July 2021, when OSU created the Department of Student-Athlete Leadership and Development, which Harding now spearheads. Harding worked for nearly a year by herself in the department, but knew if she wanted it to grow, she needed help. She hired an intern in spring 2022, and slowly, the team has evolved from just Harding to a group of six women preparing OSU’s student-athletes, Spirit squad and Pistol Pete mascots for life in college — and for life after college graduation. “Student-Athlete Development really kind of focuses on the holistic experience for student-athletes,” Harding said. “Leadership, career development, professional development, and then we also look at multiculturalism.”

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With the growth of the department, Harding has been allowed to look at long-term goals as well as the day-to-day function of the department. “I feel like I can be a lot more strategic and big picture, and focus on some bigger experiences for our student-athletes because I have support who can run the programs, do the logistical pieces, be the experts on leadership or experts in careers, and then it frees me up to be able to look at some other things that need to happen and move more initiatives forward.” She acknowledges most student-athletes don’t become professional athletes after college, and even those who do will eventually see an end to their playing days. So Harding and the team created what they call a parallel plan. It’s not Plan A, nor is it Plan B, but it’s a plan that goes hand in hand with a student-athlete’s on-the-field goals, so whenever they decide they are finished competing, they can focus more on the parallel plan. Lerin Lynch, the career coach in the department (a hybrid worker with OSU Career Services), is responsible some of that. Lynch is a third-generation OSU graduate, whose family has been around Stillwater in a number of areas for years. Her little brother was even a Pistol Pete. After graduating with a degree in strategic communications, she left town to work in a career development role in the professional equine industry. After

Jawauna Harding leads OSU’s newly created Department of Student-Athlete Leadership and Development.

two years, she returned to OSU in 2019 to work for the Alumni Association as a social media coordinator. Like many others in the Student-Athlete Development office, she didn’t plan on moving into her current job, but she’s glad she did. “I really enjoy helping people,” Lynch said. “I enjoy helping students. I enjoy seeing that lightbulb go off for them. Making sure they know they’re more than a student-athlete when they graduate and move on.” From working with the academic center to her job with the Student-Athlete Development center, Lynch’s job and goals target all student-athletes, regardless of classification. With freshmen and sophomores, she helps with building their résumé and cover letter, and with guiding them to what they want to major in and their career focus. With upperclassmen, Lynch will help look for internships and prepare graduate school applications if a student-athlete has an extra year of eligibility. “We schedule by appointment, and we do walk-ins,” Lynch said. “Sometimes they come and see me for some assignments, but sometimes it’s, ‘Hey, Lerin. I need to get my life together.’ So we are making sure that the program we’re offering is engaging to student-athletes. It is hard, but making things that are engaging and piquing their interest is something we’re working on.” Lynch, and the rest of the office, is especially

involved in creating programs for student-athletes of all ages to attend. The department will host résumé reviews, mock interviews, headshot photoshoots, and etiquette dinners in which student-athletes will learn how to dress and act appropriately in a business setting, along with financial literacy. For upcoming graduates, the “Suiting Up Seniors” program is a do-all where seniors finalize their résumés, go through professional programming, mock interviews with internal and external corporate partners and attend an etiquette dinner. At the end, they receive a free business suit. “We try to incentivize, and we try to do things that build their professional skills and their value and understanding how the athlete becomes the professional,” Harding said. College isn’t just a time where students prepare to get jobs after four years, though. It’s when most people grow into themselves, meet others like them and are active around campus. For a student-athlete, the schedule is not easy. This is what most of Tia Harring’s job entails. She began working at OSU in marketing and fan engagement. After 15 years in that department and getting married and having two children in between, she wanted more time for family.


“It was a lot, and I loved every second of it, but as I got older, it was just daunting,” Harring said. “It was a never-ending schedule. Football, basketball, all the sports overlapped, and it was just a lot to do with long hours throughout the academic year. Although I loved it, I wanted to take a different path.” Harring didn’t want to leave OSU Athletics, though. She had known Harding for some time and knew her plans for her department. After a phone call and coffee meeting between the two, Harding approached Harring asking if she could join the team. “This is a whole new world for me,” Harring said. “I’m still learning but I’ve been here. This is my 16th season with OSU athletics and I’m learning a lot. I love the department. I love that (OSU Director of Athletics) Chad Weiberg brought this area to life. I felt Oklahoma State was a little

— Tia Harring behind on that. A lot of other schools have already had student-athlete development for years. So, I love the fact that we actually have this department now and we can help our student-athletes get jobs and find out who they are outside of their sport. “For a lot of them, it’s just sports, sports, sports — that’s their life. A lot of them have cool stories. A lot have outside hobbies, a lot of them have talents that you would never know because sports are their life. And so it’s our job to bring that out of them and figure out what life is after college. We are helping them transition because that’s hard, going from being this big-time student-athlete in Stillwater, and then relocating and finding your first job and possibly not knowing who you are. That’s a big life transition.”

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Tia Harring worked in OSU’s marketing and fan engagement department before transitioning to Student-Athlete Development.

To help with the transitions, Harring oversees OSU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council, a group led by student-athletes that allows their voices to be empowered and heard by the athletic administration. “I think that’s what really motivates me, is to get to know them on a personal level,” Harring said. “We’re not talking about what you just did yesterday on the court. I want to know about you and what do you do when you go home or how are you doing in your classes and how are you doing in life, and just getting to know them on a more personal level to help them be successful in life.” What Harring is most excited for, though, is a three-part mentorship program the department is launching in the spring semester. The program’s goal is to pair a current student-athlete, most likely an upperclassman, with a former OSU student-athlete who is currently working in a field the current student-athlete would like to pursue. There’s also the peer-mentorship piece, where one upperclassman will be paired with an underclassman and help them acclimate to OSU, and to help with any problems they may face as they transition into a new environment. “You might be from California or wherever and another student-athlete helps them get acclimated to life in small-town Stillwater,” Harring said. “And it’s from a different team, so it could be a freshman soccer player with a senior on the equestrian team. We try to match them up based on commonalities and things that make them comfortable.” The department is also developing a resource guide, a tool that student-athletes and coaches can use to find where in Stillwater to satisfy their specific culture. “You might get here and be like, ‘OK, where do I get my hair cut? Where do I go to get these things?’ For students of color and African Americans, it could be, ‘Where am I going to get my hair braided?’ We are putting together a blueprint for different resources and needs for our student-athletes,” Harring said. “We’ve had coaches say, ‘I have a recruit coming in and they are Mormon, I didn’t know we had a Mormon church in Stillwater.’ So just little things that they may not be aware of that they need, as coaches and as student-athletes. We have to help them navigate life while they’re here and then help them be successful when they leave.” With this type of programming, the hope is that the connection to Oklahoma State and OSU Athletics doesn’t end with the end of eligibility.


Lerin Lynch during a résumé writing event hosted by OSU Student-Athlete Leadership and Development.

“Jawauna always tells me she still has football guys that are playing pro who will call her and say, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about this on my résumé, could you help me?’” Lynch said. “They’ve been graduated five, 10 years, and they’ve been playing pro, and they’re still coming back because they trust people in this office, and they want that guidance.” “Our office is great,” Harring said. “Athletics is a very male dominated industry. So to have an office full of diverse women is amazing. I have no issues working with men, but it’s great to have an office of women and have our student-athletes see us as women in a professional light. We have one female head coach, everybody else is male, and a lot of our administrators are men. For them to see us in these positions, I think speaks volumes, and it’s powerful for them. We always try to tell our student-athletes to use your voice, be heard, don’t let anybody ever silence you — especially women. We advocate. We try to inspire them to go for what they want, and seeing us in these positions helps solidify that they can actually go and do that.” There isn’t a major in career development. Most have graduated from OSU in a communications role, then worked their way back to OSU and realized they wanted to help people while still using their skills from their education and past work experiences.

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To them, it doesn’t feel like they’re working with the star basketball or softball player. They’re working with people, and helping them reach their goals. “I think that every student needs to understand the college experience and be able to have access and prioritize those things,” Harding said. “And I think that’s what’s great about the department is that we focus so much on that, we marry the student and the athlete together in order to show this is how athletics really fits into the student experience, and this is how athletics fits into your future experience.”




The Athletics Excellence Fund provides the resources for every Cowboy and Cowgirl student-athlete to compete and win at the highest level, whether in the classroom or on the playing field ... and winning is fun! For more information about how you can make a game-changing gift, contact the OSU POSSE: 877-ALL-4-OSU or okstate.com/posse.

With a thrilling, double-overtime victory over BYU, it seems the Cowboys made the Nice List. PHOTO JEROD HILL

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