The Oklahoma State Cowboys are about to break ground on a new $16 million state-of-the-art indoor practice facility. The Cowboys were in much need of an indoor facility to keep up with its conference foes in terms of selling the program and facilities to recruits. Additionally, OSU has spent $3 million for the construction of three practice fields (one turf and two grass) and thanks to billionaire hedge-fund manager T. Boone Pickens, spent a whopping $100 million to upgrade the stadium. To continue the spending spree, in 2010, head coach Mike Gundy received over $1.9 million in compensation.
Fortunately, in the midst of state budget cuts, alumnus Sherman Smith, who recently passed away, donated $20 million for the maintenance and up-keep of the current facility. It appears AD Mike Holder defines up-keep by building a new facility and three new practice fields.
In the meantime, students in Stillwater are facing a 4.85 increase in tuition fees coupled with the student body growing expanding the student to teacher ratio. In the words of an OSU official, “it is a constant concern to keep tuition and fee increases at a minimum. OSU wants to be an easy, affordable choice for everyone.”
There is no denying that big time football programs need to continue to lure top talent. One would argue that a state-of-the-art facility is the way to go. However, it is tough to say, especially for a team that has zero national championships and is under .500 overall.
Meanwhile, the real tragedy is the direction of college football. Oklahoma State ranks at the bottom of the Big 12 academically and 132 nationally (according to US News and World Report). The school accepts just about every applicant with an 86.5% acceptance rate but there is only a 31% graduation rate with-in 4 years. It’s not a problem to update and build premium football facilities, but with the academic rankings so low and an embarrassing graduation rate, the school should focus its resources on the students and classrooms.
This is just another example of a big time program spending a significant amount of money on athletics over academics except there is no return on the investment.
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