Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder to retire July 1: 'Chad Weiberg is the new sheriff in town'
STILLWATER — Mike Holder’s love for Oklahoma State is undeniable.
Whether fans approved or disapproved of his decisions as OSU’s athletic director, none could debate his passion for the university.
Holder’s 16-year run as athletic director will end July 1, at which time deputy athletic director Chad Weiberg will take the reins of the department, the university announced Thursday.
Under the leadership transition plan that OSU president Burns Hargis — who is also set to retire from his post after the school year — will recommend to the OSU/A&M Board of Regents on Friday, Holder will become the athletic director emeritus and remain a special adviser.
Holder has overseen the transformation of the athletic facilities at OSU through his masterful fundraising and his strong relationship with the late Boone Pickens — two aspects of Holder’s work that began before he was athletic director, while he was still coaching the Cowboy golf team.
That relationship with Pickens helped plant the seed of giving throughout the OSU community, which led to the refurbishment of the football stadium, the addition of an indoor practice facility, and updated stadiums for baseball, soccer and other sports.
“We are in awe of the massive upgrade in athletic facilities under Mike's leadership,” Hargis said. “I am personally appreciative of his adherence to honest principles in the performance of his duties leading our athletic department.
“Serving with Mike to elevate and advance our alma mater has been a great privilege for me. Mike loves OSU. He has dedicated his career to building a championship golf program and athletic department centered around helping athletes succeed in their sports, in the classroom and, most importantly, in life. As a result, I will recommend his appointment as athletic director emeritus.”
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Weiberg, who has an undergraduate and Master’s degree from OSU, was hired as the school’s deputy athletic director in 2017. He was tagged then as the likely successor to the athletic director position upon Holder’s eventual retirement.
“Today is about the future of Oklahoma State University athletics,” Holder said in the release. “Chad Weiberg is the new sheriff in town and he needs all of us to saddle up and ride for the brand. Get ready Cowboys and Cowgirls. If you do your part, then the best is yet to come.”
Weiberg has agreed to a four-year contract that will pay him $750,000 annually, the university announced.
But following Holder’s legacy won’t be easy.
“It is hard to describe the magnitude of the impact Mike Holder has had on Oklahoma State athletics during his 16-year tenure,” said Rick Davis, chair of the OSU/A&M Board of Regents. “He has elevated our athletic program to a level once unimaginable in national prominence and prestige by developing and building athletic facilities on par with any in the nation.”
Holder was popular with many of his coaches, who voiced support for him after he had to orchestrate a financial plan last year that led to pay cuts and layoffs across the athletic department.
OSU softball coach Kenny Gajewski couldn’t hold back his tears on Thursday while talking about what Holder has meant to the softball program and the coach’s career.
“He gave me the shot of a lifetime to be here,” Gajewski said. “And he didn’t have to, when it’s more popular to hire a female, when it’s more popular to do what the public sentiment wants you to do. He’s always done what’s best for OSU in his mind. And I’m grateful, and I’m sad.
“One of the main reasons I took this job… how could I pass up the opportunity to be coached myself by one of the greatest collegiate coaches of all time?”
And Gajewski knows Holder will still be around and involved when his assistance is needed, particularly his fundraising skills.
“I know that he’ll be here for Chad, for the rest of this staff, for all of us, we’ll have him forever,” Gajewski said. “As long as he’s around here, he’ll be here to help us.
“He is everything OSU.”
Reporter Jacob Unruh contributed to this report.