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Former OC athlete receives Distinguished Alumnus award

From the basketball court to the classroom, Bill Pink has served in a variety of leadership roles since graduating from Oklahoma Christian University. The 1990 graduate was recently honored at the alumni banquet Nov. 3, where he received the Distinguished Alumnus award.

“Knowing the caliber of people who are also very deserving of this, I’m honored and humbled to be able to receive it and I’m grateful to what OC has meant to me and continues to mean to me,” Pink said. “One thing that is a big sign of something that is home is when you feel like you can be gone for a year, two years or however long, and when you get back, you feel like a lot of things pick up where they left off. That’s what Oklahoma Christian has always been for me since being gone. I could always visit OC and there were faces and familiar souls there that made it easy to pick back up, that’s friendship but it’s also family. I value that greatly.”

Pink was originally recruited to play basketball by former Oklahoma Christian Head Coach Dan Hays.

“Basketball for me was a big thing at the time, because OCC was a very highly regarded NAIA basketball power,” Pink said. “Playing for Dan Hays was just a great learning opportunity, and he was very, very influential in my life. It’s nice to still have people to this day who are still good friends that are right there on campus. From the guy who was my best friend at my wedding, all the way to people who I still have good connections with today, like my former basketball coach or former professors like Phillip Patterson who still to this day mean a lot to me.”

Pink recently became president of Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in Grand Rapids, MI. He has been an educator for over 25 years, including time spent as a professor at Oklahoma Christian in the Department of Education. As a student-athlete, Pink earned awards for his athletic and academic achievements and was inducted into the York College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.

“I am blessed to step into a presidency at a really great institution,” Pink said. “The things that have led to this, and a lot of who I am, have a good foundation at who I was and what I was able to gain at schools like OC. A place that helps to build a spiritual foundation where it’s not just something you do on a Sunday or Wednesday – it’s truly a part of who you are and OC had a big part in that.”

Hays recruited and coached Bill Pink during his junior and senior years at Oklahoma Christian, and has since stayed in close contact with Pink and considers him a close family friend.

“Bill Pink, or as I like to call him Billy Paul, is one of my favorite players and closest friends,” Hays said. “I recruited Bill out of one of my very good coaching friends who hosted a junior college regional tournament., I learned very quickly that he was a special kid. Not only a good basketball player, but a better person—just top notch. I knew I really hit the jackpot with Bill as a student-athlete.”

According to Hays, the two have spent numerous hours together over the years and learned from one another in more ways than one. Hays said he is proud of Pink and admires the way Pink represents Oklahoma Christian, both on and off the court.

“When he came back to Oklahoma Christian as a professor, he also helped us coach and so we were back, connected again,” Hays said.  “We’ve traveled a lot of miles together and I’m so proud of what he’s become—you can’t be a better father, administrator, Christian—he’s just a wonderful human being. He’s a great representative of Oklahoma Christian University and will continue to represent us in a way which makes us all proud.”

Oklahoma Christian Men’s Head Basketball Coach Cory Cole played under Pink when he was a graduate assistant. Although Cole was unable to be on the court with Pink, he said he still looked up to him, saw his ability as a player and admired his devotion to the Lord.

“Bill was a big brother to me,” Cole said. “I didn’t play with him, but got to know him as a freshman, and he was a graduate assistant. As a player, he was smart and tough. He could shoot the three and defend. Bill is made for this award. He’s a terrific man, devoted husband and friend who loves the Lord and is a dedicated leader.”

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