CollegeAD Conversation: Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder

September 19th, 2019 | by CollegeAD
CollegeAD Conversation: Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder

Mike Holder
Mike Holder has overseen change and growth in the over five decades he’s been associated with Oklahoma State athletics. First as a student-athlete, then as a coach, and now as OSU’s Director of Athletics. Holder recently spoke with CollegeAD in a wide-ranging interview covering multiple topics including facilities, fan experience, success, and more.

Editors Note: The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

CollegeAD: In early August, Oklahoma State announced a new pouring rights partner, what drove the decision to move to Pepsi?

Mike Holder: There’s not one thing that got us to change, probably it was time to do something different. We feel like this new partnership has brought with it a lot of energy and I think we’ll notice some significant cross-promotion in our market place which I think will be good for Pepsi and for the Oklahoma State brand.

I know there’s going to be a lot of significant changes and we’re looking forward to seeing what it looks like.

CollegeAD: This season will be the second with alcohol sales at Boone Pickens Stadium, how has the implementation of beer and wine sales worked thus far?

Mike Holder: It’s been really good, I would say it’s seamless, we’ve had the same experience that I think most of our collegiate brethren have had. We’ve noticed a reduction in alcohol-related incidences and that’s been refreshing. It’s brought a new source of revenue, nothing significant, and that’s what we anticipated. We’ve turned around and put that revenue back in our fan experience, trying to make coming to the games more attractive to our fanbase.

CollegeAD: You mentioned fan experience, what’s the importance of continuing to evolve when it comes to fan engagement and experience? 

Mike Holder: Other than winning, it’s probably the most important thing we do. I don’t think that you can do too much, I think you have to be creative, I think you have to be preemptive, and I think everything is on the table.

A lot of times it just comes down to what you can afford to do at that moment in time. I would say we’re into considering anything that would give us a better chance of drawing crowds at any of our athletic events.

CollegeAD: With Big 12 Now coming online, what are the pros behind it and how will the network impact fans?

We really don’t know what this is ultimately going to look like. We’ve got high hopes, we think it will increase our visibility especially for a lot of our Olympic sports, so we’re excited about that. 

We really didn’t have an option to do a linear channel at this time, the market just wasn’t ready for it. In the Big 12, Texas has the Longhorn Network and Oklahoma essentially has a similar set up with Fox and so not being able to bring all ten members of the league into the Network impacts what you can do, significantly.

So, I think for this moment in time it’s a great thing for the other eight members of the league, other than Oklahoma and Texas. I think it will be really good, a dynamic change for us and it also gets us into that space and gives us an idea of how this could look 3-4 years from now when we begin negotiations on the new contract for Tier I and Tier II rights.

CollegeAD: What’s the latest on your new ballpark, O’Brate Stadium?

Mike Holder: We started off in a hole because we had some soil samples taken about three years before we started construction and when we actually started moving dirt, we found that we had some unsuitable soil, which was unanticipated and we also had some groundwater. Those things affected our budget, cost us about $1.5 million that we weren’t anticipating and it also cost us probably three months in our construction schedule.

Then add record rain throughout the winter and spring and into early summer and now we’re significantly behind, putting in jeopardy our ability to play our home opener in O’Brate Stadium. We may be still Allie P. Reynolds Stadium the first baseball game of 2020, we don’t know that for sure yet, but we’re preparing for that possibility.

I think the stadium itself will be complete, the thing that is questionable is the playing surface. We’re going with a grass field. If we were going with artificial I’m confident we would be ready to play. If we get some warm temperatures into October, it increases our chances of playing maybe as early as March, if we don’t, then it may be as late as April before we play.

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