Originally Published: Jan 27, 2010 1:10 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Staff & AP Wire Reports
STILLWATER, Oklahoma -- After Oklahoma State's most recent home game, someone laid a single yellow rose -- wrapped in orange paper with a black ribbon, representing the school's colors -- at a memorial inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
It was a gentle homage to 10 men associated with the Cowboys' basketball program who died nine years ago Wednesday in a plane crash near Boulder, Colo. A lot has changed at Oklahoma State since the crash -- there have been two new school presidents and two new basketball coaches -- but the university has remained true to its pledge to remember the dead.
"We like to consider ourselves a family, those of us with orange in our blood, and this is one of those significant family moments as far as we're concerned," said Jim Perry of Perkins, whose nephew, team publicist Will Hancock, was one of those who died. "I don't think it's one we'll ever forget."
The crash occurred Jan. 27, 2001, after the Cowboys had played at Colorado. The plane had taken off from the Jefferson County Airport outside Boulder and crashed a short time later about 40 miles east of Denver in a snow-covered pasture near the town of Strasburg.
Killed in the crash were players Nate Fleming and Daniel Lawson, director of basketball operations Pat Noyes, Hancock, trainer Brian Luinstra, manager Jared Weiberg, play-by-play announcer Bill Teegins, radio engineer Kendall Durfey and pilots Denver Mills and Bjorn Fahlstrom.
Teegins was also sports director KOTV in Tulsa until 1986, then moved to KWTV in Oklahoma City where he became sports director in 1991; both stations are now affiliated with Oklahoma Sports.
As in recent years, the university is planning a low-key approach to commemorating the anniversary. The arena lobby will open starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday for those wanting to visit the memorial. At 6:37 p.m. CST, the time the crash occurred, the university's Library Carillon will toll 10 times in honor of each of those who died, as has been done each year since the crash.
David Bosserman, the university's vice president for administration, and his executive assistant, Nancy Horner, plan to visit a memorial to the victims located in Colorado, near the crash site, and lay a wreath there, as they have done on each anniversary. They will be joined by the university's physical plant director, Rick Krysiak, and by members of the Colorado emergency response teams from 2001.
The Cowboys will play Texas A&M on Wednesday, only the second time since the crash that they will have played on the anniversary date. A moment of silence is planned before the game, and at halftime, the organizers of the annual "Remember The 10 Run" will donate race proceeds to the university's counseling services.
Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis, who's an alumnus of the school, said this time of year remains difficult for those connected with the university.
"But I do think it's inspiring the way the (OSU) family pulls together to support the families of those that we lost," Hargis said.
"In times of tragedy, you never forget, but you honor them by doing the best you can and going on with your life."
Current Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford was in his first season as the coach at Eastern Kentucky in 2001 when he heard of the crash. He said that since his arrival at Oklahoma State in April 2008, he's enjoyed getting to know family members of those who died in the crash. Ford said he knows he's now a caretaker of a key part of the basketball program's legacy.
"It was a devastating event," he said. "Nobody is ever going to forget them. They're always going to be front and center stage here. They meant so much to so many people.
"It's important that we keep our priorities straight here and we remember that the people here are what are important. That's what makes Oklahoma State so special, are the people."
Inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, a banner listing the names of the 10 men, the date of the crash and the phrase "We Remember" hangs from the rafters. The Cowboys, coming off a huge win at then-No. 10 Kansas State, are expecting perhaps their largest crowd of the season on Wednesday, including Perry, who has season tickets near the top of the arena that public-address announcer Larry Reece has informally dubbed the rowdiest in the nation.
"I'll look up there and see my nephew's name on that banner and I'm going to feel those vibrations," said Perry, who considers the arena "hallowed ground. To have Will's memorial be in hallowed ground is something I cannot put words to.
"Those 10 men who died that night on the plains of Colorado will never die as long as we keep them alive on our lips and in our hearts."
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