Media reports advanced a story this week about a program within Oklahoma State athletics that placed $10 million dollar insurance policies on wealthy alumni aged 65 to 85. Oklahoma State started the program in 2007, but abandoned the practice in 2009 when none of the insured alumni happened to shuffle off this mortal coil. Court records indicate that OSU lost $33 million dollars on a program that one OSU regent has already called "morally bankrupt to outrageous".
T. Boone has done a lot for OSU. OSU's 2011 gridiron success is wholly the result of a decade of Mr. Pickens' largess. It's no secret. By a series of backroom financial maneuvers, hedge fund finagling, and donation drives he has essentially made himself collegiate sport's first "owner/manager", and everyone has known this fact since his first donation. His blunder of blowing his entire athletic village wad in the economic crisis of 2008 was a blunder of circumstance and a venial mistake that was forgivable. This new revelation of insuring elderly alumni, then waiting to collect on their demise seems outwardly cruel.
Make no mistake that business people are not the most humanistic of fellows. Corporations pull shenanigans like this all the time. "Key employee" insurance is a widely accepted form of business insurance retained by companies looking to protect themselves from financial loss in the event of the death of a employee of high value or a employee that possesses a valuable skill set. Corporate-owned life insurance, or "Dead Peasants" insurance, is a sicker, more heinous, but still perfectly legal form of "key employee" insurance employed by companies that put large policies on employees that are hourly wage workers such as janitors and sales clerks, paying large dividends if the employee dies, no matter the circumstance, and giving nothing to the deceased person's living heirs. The "Gift of a Lifetime" program is morally somewhere in between these two practices since we can assume that the alumni would have ultimately liked to give to their alma matter with a policy that OSU was paying the premiums on, but all the while the practice is still kind of morose and impertinent.
T. Boone is 83 years old. Did he open a policy on himself?