Founded in 1961
The OU Club of Tulsa celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2011. Let’s look back a few years to how this all started.
“I want a university the football team can be proud of”. That’s something George L. Cross, President of the University of Oklahoma from 1943 to 1968, once told the Oklahoma State Senate. Football support was the initial foundation for the OU Club of Tulsa membership, and in 1966, Head Football Coach Jim Mackenzie asked President Cross to start a Tulsa Area scouting group. This group of approximately 24 former players and business men assisted in scouting and recruiting players in the area. The NCAA rules were different back then, and all scouting efforts were coordinated by President Cross and the coaching staff. The group was led by OU Club of Tulsa founding members Roy Cartwright and Joe Lawnick, who visited high schools and families with the coaches, and escorted players to Norman.
How the Modern-Day Sooner Caravan Began:
In 1967, Head Football Coach Chuck Fairbanks asked the OU Club of Tulsa to host a luncheon, thus the beginning of the modern day Sooner Caravan. The luncheon became an annual event, and the first few Coaches Luncheons were held in local hot spots such as Borden’s Cafeteria, the old Petroleum Club, and the Mayo Hotel. By the mid 1980’s these events had become Coaches Dinners and grown to over 1,000 attendees. It was during this time that the OU Club of Tulsa begun funding six academic scholarships for Tulsa area students to attend OU. In 1998, the OU Athletic Department Sooner Club joined forces with the OU Club of Tulsa to host the 1st Annual Sooner Caravan.
Since 2001 the Sooner Caravan has been held on the grounds of our gorgeous OU-Tulsa Schusterman Center campus located at 41st and Yale and continues to be the highlight event of many Sooner fans in the Tulsa area.
It’s Not All About Football:
Along the way, OU Club of Tulsa members have supported members of the Tulsa and Oklahoma communities. In 1999 we partnered with the Athletic Department to host a benefit football scrimmage at Memorial High School, with the gate proceeds going to the Oklahoma City area tornado victims and a cookout benefiting the OU Club of Tulsa scholarship fund. Tulsa Public Schools even got involved and allowed the use of their buses to transport fans to the stadium due to limited parking. The event was a huge sell-out.
Our Strong Partnership with the OSU Alumni Association of Tulsa To Better Tulsa:
We also proved that OU and OSU fans really can get along. In 2003 we partnered with OSU Alumni Association of Tulsa on two occasions. The first was to spread the word to the Tulsa community about benefits for the OU-Tulsa and OSU-Tulsa campuses in the Vision 2025 campaign. The second became the annual Bedlam Canned Food Drive, a competition to see which school could collect the most pounds of food during Bedlam week for the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. This event was hosted by the Clubs for five years, and now is an annual event sponsored by the Food Bank.
The OU/OSU Tulsa alumni partnership remains strong as we continue to partner on the Bedlam Run, a 5k, 10k, and fun run event that raises funds for the two Club’s scholarship programs. This event began with approximately 300 runners and in 2016 totaled about 1400 runners.
Today the OU Club of Tulsa is one of the longest running and most active OU Alumni Association clubs in the country. With more than 18,000 graduates of OU living and working in the Tulsa area, the OU Club of Tulsa is a great way to join other alumni, friends, and supporters of the University of Oklahoma in celebrating OU and introducing the university to prospective students and offering a variety of scholarships.
We look forward to the next 50 years of celebrating Sooners in Tulsa!