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Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Big 12 teams facing fundraising crisis

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Interesting story in this morning's New York Times about how the downturn in the economy is affecting college athletics and fundraising projects. The Times centered its story on four Big 12 programs -- Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.  

T. Boone Pickens' recent stock-market losses are well-chronicled. But the billionaire has been quoted as saying his biggest recent enjoyment has been watching the unexpected rise of Oklahoma State's football program.

Building for OSU's state-of-the-art athletic village has been held up until Pickens' financial situation improves. Pickens recently revealed his has lost more than a billion dollars because of market fluctuation in his hedge fund. 

Oklahoma officials were similarly concerned when megabuck booster Aubrey K. McClendon, the chief executive of Cheasapeake Energy, divested himself of more than 32 million shares of his company. And recent bankruptcy procedings for SemGroup has brought some unwanted attention to Kansas after the company's co-founder (and former Kansas basketball player) Tom Kivisto pledged $12 million to help pay for the school's palatial new football complex.

The most interesting comments in the Times story came from Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, who acknowledged that his school would likely take some hits because of the market fluctuation.

But if there's anything recession proof in terms of market forces around Texas athletics, it's the school's football program -- especially when the Longhorns are flirting with the national championship.

"We'll probably see it first in baseball, maybe, and then maybe in basketball," Dodds told the Times. "We've lost a couple of suite holders in basketball, and I think the economy is part of the reason there. (But) I think people will hold on to their football stuff as long as they can."