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Stillwater, Boone-Style



Photo Attribution: US Presswire

The way we got here, the price that has been paid, well it’s not as pretty or as square as we might like it to be[1. Or as many of the Twitter feeds emanating from the OSU athletic department would have you believe.].

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend about Boone and about Stillwater and about the $275 million that was lost and about the $33 million that was lost after that. It’s all pretty grotesque, yet as you’re reading it, you kind of, I don’t know….maybe it’s just because we’ve lived this story…you understand it.

I can’t link to the story because you’d have to pay for it, but if you Google “Boone WSJ” it’s the first thing that pops up and for some reason it’s free that way. You should read it, the details are recycled from various corners of the internet but the author does a pretty good job of piecing everything together.

Here were the main points I took away…

  • Basically the entire operation (both the stadium money and the life insurance policies[2. Again, go read the article to know what I’m talking about]) hinged on Boone being able to house a 20% ROI every year. There was no diversification, there was no contingency plan. I’m not an economist but that seems absurd.
  • If it wasn’t clear before that Mike Holder is a pawn in somebody else’s game[3. And it very very very much was clear] it is now. “Heads will roll.”
  • I’m not a big “taking out life insurance policies on people is creepy!” guy but I will say when you’re dealing with that many millions, it seems like the line between “betting on life expectancy tables” and “wow, this person really needs to die” is a lot blurrier than it should be.
  • I don’t know all the dynamics in the hierarchy of leadership in Stillwater, but it would take a pretty strong argument for somebody to talk me out of thinking Burns is the only person there that will go toe-to-toe with Boone-daddy.

Again, none of this is new[5. And in terms of bigger pictures, these details are probably not tremendously consequential, though a lot of questions can and should probably be asked about the long-term viability and ethicalness of an 84-year old oil man essentially steering a transformative athletic program…] but as an OSU fan it’s worth knowing every side to the story, grisly as they might be.

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