Recognized as a 2013 finalist for National Athletic Director of the Year in the Sports Business Awards by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, Mike Holder is a central figure in Oklahoma State’s current athletic resurgence. He was named Vice President for Athletic Programs and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Oklahoma State University on Sept. 16, 2005. In his 32 years of leading his alma mater’s golf program, Holder’s name became synonymous with success not only on the golf course, but in fundraising, facility development and the academic performance of his student- athletes. In fact, a case could be made that Holder took Oklahoma State’s already strong golf program and transformed it into America’s best.
Under Holder’s direction, the Oklahoma State University Department of Athletics has continued to move forward while maintaining its traditional strengths. The Cowboy football team has appeared in seven straight bowl games for the first time in school history. OSU has won five more national team championships under Holder’s watch, raising the school’s championship count to 51, the fourth best total in the country and tops in the Big 12 Conference. In 2011, OSU claimed its first outright conference football championship of the modern era.
Holder’s tenure has also featured landmark fundraising by the athletic department, including the $165 million gift from T. Boone Pickens that pushed OSU’s facility drive into high gear. The legendary OSU alum also helped complete the west end zone project with another $63 million gift in 2008. At Holder’s urging, OSU Athletics has placed a new emphasis on scholarship endowments. That endowment drive has seen Oklahoma State climb from dead last in the Big 12 to second with gifts and commitments of approximately $58 million. Just four years ago, OSU’s endowment stood at $2.1 million.
Holder is one of five coaches in NCAA history, regardless of sport, to win a national championship in four different decades. Three times Holder coached the Cowboys to the national team title the same year an OSU individual also claimed medalist honors (1978, 1987 and 2000). Along the way, he claimed 25 conference championships. His 21 Big Eight championships were the second most by a head coach in any sport, trailing only Kansas basketball coach Phog Allen.
As a student-athlete, Holder was the 1970 Big Eight medalist and led OSU to the conference team title. He was a third-team All-American as a junior and a senior and an honorable mention All-American as a sophomore.
Holder, a graduate of Ardmore High School, earned his degree in marketing from Oklahoma State in 1970 and completed work on his MBA at OSU in 1973. His wife, Robbie, graduated as salutatorian from Jasper High School in 1966, and attended the University of Houston where they met at the All-American Intercollegiate golf tournament in 1968. The team captain for each of the competing universities drew the name of a coed from a hat at the pre-tournament banquet to serve as that team’s host and Grier Jones drew Robbie’s name for the Cowboys. The rest is history.