Ada native Jay O'Neal will be honored as East Central University's 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year and will deliver the Leonard Limes Endowed Lecture at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday [APRIL 29] in the Estep Multimedia Center in the University Center.
The winners of the student business plan competition will be announced at the lecture, which is open to the public. The judges for this year's competition include O'Neal, Jeff Baird, Bill Howells and Dr. Mike Thompson.
O'Neal has lived in Crested Butte, Colo., since 1975 where he owns, operates and builds cable television systems in Crested Butte and Gunnison, Colo. He also built an internet marketing company and is an investor in real estate and entrepreneurial projects.
He was an adjunct instructor at ECU from September 2002 through 2005, helping teach the Introduction to Entrepreneurship class.
From 1966 to 1975 he actively initiated and created several cable TV operating and construction companies in the United States and Mexico through his role as vice president and president. He was president of the Texas Cable TV Association and a member of the National Cable TV Association. He also was a distributor for Zodiac Boats.
O'Neal graduated from Ada High School in 1953 and was the quarterback of two state championship football teams with a 26-1 record.
He earned a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering with distinction from the University of Oklahoma and was a quarterback on OU teams that won 31 straight games during his three years of eligibility, including the 1956 Orange Bowl and national championships in 1955 and 1956. He was a graduate assistant coach on Bud Wilkinson's coaching staff in 1958 and 1959.
He earned his commission as a second lieutenant after completing the ROTC program at OU and attended Artillery School at Fort Sill and airborne training at Fort Benning, Ga.
O'Neal worked on a senatorial staff in Washington, D.C., while attending George Washington Law School at night before returning to OU in January 1961 as an assistant football coach.
He was an area scout for the San Diego Chargers of the AFL in 1966 and 1967 and is a volunteer assistant football coach at Gunnison (Colo.) High School.
O'Neal is the brother of former ECU football coach Pat O'Neal and of Benton O'Neal who served as president of Oklahoma State Bank and now is chairman of Ada's First United Bank.
# # #