A game-changer for the University of Central Oklahoma’s athletic department came Tuesday with the largest gift in Central’s history. Paycom CEO and founder Chad Richison, a UCO graduate, has pledged to help Central athletics with a $10 million gift to build a north end zone complex.
Central recently kicked off its Keep the Dream Campaign to raise money to build new athletic facilities that were long overdue, said Joe Muller, athletic director. The university realized it would need the help of a lot of people to make the campaign successful.
“What we didn’t realize at the time was what difference one person can make,” Muller said. Muller asked Richison four months ago to help Central with its ambitious building campaign.
“It’s one thing to have the capacity to give. It’s another thing altogether to give,” Muller said. “Very few people in a brief moment of time will change the course and trajectory of an athletic program.”
Athletes will have new space with locker rooms, academic center, weight room, modern athletic training facilities and more, Muller said.
Richison said he is honored to be able to support the Central athletic program. He came to UCO as a student-athlete in 1989. His athletic career was short-lived, Richison said.
“My relationships here at UCO have really lasted forever,” Richison said.
Richison said he enjoyed his education while attending Central for an affordable price of tuition. His education allowed him to develop the company he founded in 1998, he said.
“I didn’t graduate with a business degree. I graduated with a journalism degree,” Richison said. “It just shows what you can do once you get your degree and how if you are ambitious anything is possible.”
UCO President Don Betz said Richison’s gift is a apt conclusion to Central’s 125th anniversary and homecoming celebration that actually ended last week.
“We have this extraordinary moment in the life of this institution,” Betz said.
Richison’s gift speaks volumes about the type of students that come to UCO from across Oklahoma, he said. They earn their degrees and reinvest their lives for the betterment of their communities, Betz said. Paycom is making a difference not only in Oklahoma but across the country, he added.
“He understands about the connect that occurs when you believe in a place and believe in a program,” Betz continued.
Four-year-old girls learning about gymnastics and 6-year-old boys putting on their first baseball cap will one day attend UCO, Betz said. Thanks to Richison, they will benefit from a facility that allows them to live their potential.
Richison is an example of what is possible when somebody is devoted to the common good and the future of a university, Betz said.
“…We’re deeply grateful to you, Chad, for your gracious support of this program,” Muller said. “Gosh, it means so much to all of us. All of these athletes and the thousands of young men and women who are going to wear the bronze and blue in the years ahead.
“You’ve left a tremendous mark on this athletic program, one that we will never, ever forget.”