Beaver forms early connection to OSU through athletics

April 18, 2024

By Siobhan Murray

Growing up going to OSU Men’s Basketball games with his family, fourth-generation Beaver Denver Pugh, ’97, watched Gary Payton’s tenacious defense and steal-making prowess. He watched A.C. Green snagging rebounds and sinking free throws. 

More than that, he remembers the atmosphere of Gill Stadium – packed to the rafters with fans, pumped full of the brass sounds of the OSU bands – and the feeling of oneness from being surrounded by a sea of people rooting for the same team.

OSU Athletics were how Pugh first formed his first connection with Oregon State. “When it came time to think about college, it wasn’t a question for me. I knew I was going to Oregon State.”

Photo of Denver Pugh


As a student, he never missed a football game. Athletics made a big campus seem small, full of people who may have studied different subjects but valued the same things. After graduation, he returned to Shedd, Oregon, where he put his agricultural sciences education to work as the sixth-generation steward of his family’s farm.

Pugh, who is now a member of the OSU Alumni Association Board of Directors, has kept Beaver Athletics close to his heart. As a season ticket holder – first in football, then in men’s basketball – he shared his love of the Beavs with his family, including four daughters who have since introduced him to their love of OSU Women’s Basketball.

“We went all in this year,” he says, supporting the team during their stellar season that culminated in an Elite 8 appearance. “Boy, they’re something.”

Pugh has seen the impact of athletics as a farmer and business owner. “When you own a business, you’re running a team,” he said. “You see employees who did sports respond to changes a lot faster and engage in more team building than the ones who haven’t.”

He emphasizes the importance OSU Athletics’ continuing to foster new generations of student-athletes.

“There’s a huge need for athletics, not only for relationship building and for the morale of the school – to have an identity and something to get behind – but to provide an education to student-athletes that they can bring to future careers. It’s also important to support athletics now so that we preserve all it has to offer future generations.”


To ensure athletic programs continue to create a vibrant campus culture and develop a new generation of leaders, support the OSU Athletics Fund for Excellence.