All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Financial crisis bites Oklahoma State

From OU Insider (free registration required):

"It Can Only Get Better - It Can't Get Any Worse..."

Spiraling Oil Prices Doomed O-State's Once Overflowing Coffers

STILLWATER -- "It can't get any worse," that's what one Oklahoma State Regent said Tuesday morning, after getting another dose of bad news regarding funds earmarked for OSU athletics.

Yesterday all indications were that OSU Regents were reportedly told Friday afternoon that a large portion of the Boone Pickens donation in the BP Capital hedge fund was virtually wiped out by margin calls on the funds investments in the third quarter.

Today the news was a little more grim, as officials were told that actually, the entire $ 165 million donation, and the earnings, which once inflated the gift to over $ 300 million, had recently been eliminated by margin calls due to drastically falling oil prices.

As of Monday OSU's gift had flat-lined completely and was declared virtually 'gone.'

Ironically Pickens will become both the hero and the goat in the drama of high stakes energy gambling, and of forunes won, lost and regained. Pickens made his historic gift in 2005, declaring "I'm tired of losing," when asked why he donated the huge amount to OSU athletics.

But the gift came with a stipulation, as Pickens insisted that he and appointee Mike Holder, who he later named Athletics Director, be given total authority over how the funds were to be spent, and by whom.

And the move appeared to be a stroke of genius as oil prices soared in a post Katrina economic climate, swelling the initial gift to over $ 300 million. That was before things began to turn in 2007, as international demand for oil failed to meet projections, causing the fund to come to a sudden standstill, and then dropping on mistakes made, and repeated by fund managers, managed by Pickens.

As oil prices started to slide in early 2008 Pickens increasingly found himself on the wrong side of the volatile oil futures game, betting 'short' as prices rose to $ 100, and then long as they began to fall, wiping out much of the two year gain in just four months, and causing AD Holder to announce that OSU's future 'Athletic Village' facility expansion had been put on hold in July.

Now the project looks like it will be shelved, as O-State Regents try to just keep their heads above water while swimming in debt.

The school had borrowed almost all funds used in the celebrated stadium expansion, using the almost $ 300 million balance in BP Capital as collateral.

Some OSU Regents are livid that their pragmatic warnings were not heeded when the fund was flush with cash.

Pickens and Holder apparently both resisted pleas by some OSU Regents to bank a good deal of the balance out of the fund when it exceeded $ 300 million, just 14 months ago. Instead both endorsed a plan of borrowing almost $ 200 million needed to expand and renovate Boone Pickens Stadium on the Stillwater campus.

Ironically, the stadium had been re-named after Pickens following his generous donation in 2005. But now that stadium sits as a drain of over $ 1 million per month in interest payments alone, on an already strapped athletic budget, which annually ranks between 8th and 9th in the Big XII conference.

Today, the problem is how to fund the surprise interest that is expected to top $ 13 million annually, when just months ago the school was going full steam ahead on an aggressive expansion of facilities that it believed were already paid for.

And OSU is not the only one facing this kind of trouble.

Then there's this:

Student loan fugitives

People who can't pay off their student loans are fleeing the country. One of the fugitives described in the article borrowed $165,000 for a master's degree in music. I don't know who's dumber, him for borrowing it, or whoever loaned it to him. A master's degree in music? How on earth is he going to repay that loan with that degree?

The reason the economy is on the brink of the abyss is debt. The economy is cracking, and may break because of it. Nationally and individually, our debt has grown to the point where it's unlikely we will ever pay it off. We will be forced to reconsider the wisdom of taking on debt...even supposedly "good" debt, like student loans or a mortgage.


posted by BubbaFan, 5:46 PM


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