Director of Athletics
In six years, Joe Castiglione has established a pattern of excellence that few in his profession could match.
While Castiglione would quickly point out that the credit belongs to the student-athletes and coaches, the staff and university administration, the donors and fans, someone had to make the first step, to take the lead. He has led one of the most successful athletics eras ever witnessed at OU and an addition and expansion of facilities that is unmatched in Sooner history.
Using the motto of "Inspiring Champions Today ... Preparing Leaders for Tomorrow" as the basis for all decisions, Castiglione has made an unwavering commitment to excellence and to student-athletes. His vision and ability have changed the face of intercollegiate athletics at the University of Oklahoma.
He has been honored by his peers for the success enjoyed at the University of Oklahoma during his tenure. In October 2004, he was named the inaugural Bobby Dodd Athletics Director of the Year. In 2003, he was inducted into the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators Hall of Fame. In June 2001, he received the General Robert R. Neyland Athletic Director Award for lifetime achievement from the All-American Football Foundation. In 2000, he was named the Central Region AD of the Year by NACDA.
The 11th director of athletics at the University of Oklahoma has celebrated four national championships, numerous top-10 NCAA finishes, record numbers of graduating student-athletes, dramatically increased donor giving, huge increases in ticket sales for all sports, major facility improvements and development and construction of new facilities. And, as aggressive as the push to improve, expand and excel has been, he has displayed and demonstrated his ability to produce a balanced budget for the OU Athletic Department for the last six years, a first since the early 1980s.
His commitment to the student-athletes requires success in all endeavors and over the last six years, Castiglione and his Sooners have written several new chapters in the Sooner success story.
The 2003-2004 year demonstrates the overall excellence that Castiglione has made the department's top priority. The Sooners finished an all-time best of 15th in the Director's Cup standings, the second highest ranked program in the Big 12. Presented by NACDA, the Sports Academy and USA Today, the Directors' Cup is awarded to best overall Division I athletic program by using the final finish in up to 10 men's and 10 women's sports teams. The 15th place finish also marked the fourth consecutive year for OU to finish in the top 20.
The Sooners finished second in men's gymnastics, third in football, fifth in softball and ninth in wrestling and women's gymnastics in 2003-2004. OU also produced one national individual champion when DaBryan Blanton won the indoor 60-meter dash title and several current and former Sooners represented the institution and their countries in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. OU sent teams or individuals to NCAA postseason competition in 18 of 20 sports.
The past year continued a string of success for Castiglione and the Sooners. The 2002-03 school year yielded a Big 12 title and Rose Bowl crown in football, a third straight Big 12 Tournament title for men's basketball, a second straight national championship in men's gymnastics, and a fourth straight Women's College World Series appearance by the softball team. The Sooners finished 20th in the Directors' Cup standings. Most impressive was the fact that OU announced a graduation rate of 74% for its student-athletes, the highest mark posted by any Big 12 member institution.
OU finished 17th in the 2001-2002 Directors' Cup standings. Oklahoma was the talk of college athletics during the 2001-02 school year when the Sooners went 11-2 with a Cotton Bowl championship and No. 6 ranking in football, sent both the men's and women's basketball teams to their respective Final Fours, won the NCAA men's gymnastics championship, finished No. 3 in wrestling and No. 6 in women's golf and sent the softball team to the Women's College World Series. Eleven of the school's 20 programs achieved a top 25 ranking. The football and basketball teams combined to win 74 games, a record among college athletics programs.
Few thought such an encore was possible following the achievements of the 2001 school year in which 17 of OU's teams sent competitors to NCAA postseason competition and 36 Sooners earned All-America honors. In addition to the national championship in football, the men's gymnastics team finished second and the wrestling team was fourth. The Sooner softball team finished fifth. The women's basketball and women's gymnastics teams were ninth and five Sooner teams earned conference championships. Classroom results also were part of the success story as a record number of Sooner student-athletes were part of OU's Class of 2001.
The 1999-2000 season produced OU's 20th national team championship and four conference champions while 18 teams competed in postseason action. For the first time in his Sooner tenure, the University of Oklahoma ranked in the top 25 in the prestigious Sears Cup competition. The Sooners had five GTE Academic All-Americans, including one Academic All-American of the Year for her sport, and several others were named to GTE all-district and other coach's/sport Academic All-America teams.
His first year as a Sooner also saw 18 teams participate in postseason action and win conference titles in wrestling, softball, men's gymnastics. OU earned the NCAA/CHAMPS Life Skills Program of Excellence award in the fall of 1998 given by the Division IA Athletic Directors Association. The Sooner tennis teams earned their third consecutive ITA Academic All-America honor and OU placed the second highest number of student-athletes on the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll.
Credited with the success OU's fund-raising efforts, Castiglione was instrumental in re-energizing the athletics department's major campaign, Great Expectations: The Campaign For Sooner Sports. The campaign officially came to an end in November of 2003 with more than $125 million raised or pledged and it has become a blueprint for success that college athletic departments across the country are using. The largest fund-raising effort in OU athletics history, Great Expectations was a unique because it included projects that will affect every sport and each of OU's nearly 500 student-athletes with facility construction and/or improvements.
Castiglione understands that a commitment to excellence requires several ingredients and he has made that one of his priorities. Fund-raising for athletics at OU is at an all-time high, both in annual campaigns and the capital campaign. On behalf of the University of Oklahoma, he cultivated several million dollar gifts, the largest capital gifts in history for athletics at OU and some of the largest ever for the university as a whole.
He has overseen dramatic construction, renovation and expansion of OU's athletics facilities, including a $70 million project at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The $17.2 million renovation of Lloyd Noble Center, which gives the Sooner basketball programs one of the best competitive and practice facilities in the nation, was completed in the fall of 2001. The Headington Family Tennis Center also was completed in 2001. In addition, the Everest Training Facility, one of the largest indoor practice areas in the country, is now complete as are renovations at John Jacobs Field, the Sooners' track and field complex. Other completed projects include a redesign of the Sooner football practice fields; the Port Robertson Wrestling Facility; the Sooner Soccer Complex and John Crain Field which opened for competition in September 2000; as well as additional renovations to L. Dale Mitchell Park, the Charlie Coe Golf Learning Center, the OU Softball Complex and Barry Switzer Center. A master plan includes additional renovations and improvements in the future.
Castiglione has overseen the selection process of head coaches including Bob Stoops who led the Sooner football program to its seventh national championship, as well as soccer, volleyball, cross country, men's and women's gymnastics and men's golf, and reorganized the infrastructure of the athletic department.
He negotiated a multi-million dollar multi-media rights contract that produce more than $8 million in new revenue for the athletics department. The Sooners have had sellouts in football for each of the last five seasons, and season tickets were sold out for the 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons. A waiting list has been created for Sooner football for the first time the 1980s.
Chaired by OU President David L. Boren, members of the search committee knew they wanted a dynamic leader as they looked for OU's 11th athletic director. They knew they had selected a person who would lead the department to success in all endeavors when Castiglione was hired on April 30, 1998. They knew he was a bright, young leader on the collegiate athletic scene, and all they had to do to find the proof of that was look to Missouri.
In his 18-year career with the Tigers, Castiglione, who was named director of athletics at Missouri on Dec. 15, 1993, rebuilt the pride and infrastructure of the Mizzou Athletic Department. Many of the accomplishments he has enjoyed at OU were part of his legacy at Missouri including rebuilding sports programs, hiring outstanding coaches, a master plan for facilities, record-setting increases in fund-raising and balancing the budget in each of his five years as athletics director.
Castiglione began his collegiate athletic career as a walk-on football player at the University of Maryland, giving him a unique perspective on the challenges faced by student-athletes. He worked as a student in the highly progressive sports marketing department at Maryland, an institution regarded as a pioneer in collegiate marketing. After graduation in 1979, he became the sports promotions director at Rice University and also was given fund-raising responsibilities where he doubled the annual giving for Rice athletics in just one year. He then worked a year as director of athletic fund-raising at Georgetown before being hired at Missouri as director of communications and marketing in 1981 by then-AD Dave Hart, Sr.
Castiglione is active on a conference and national level. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Collegiate Women Sports Awards, formerly the Honda Award, and is a board member of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. He served two terms as chair of the Big 12 Board of Athletics Directors, completing his second in 1999-2000. He is past president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association. Castiglione also served as a NACDA Executive Committee member during the 1998-99 academic year, followed by service as third vice president, second vice president, first vice president and president from 1999 to 2003. He served a four-year term on the NCAA Championship/Competition Cabinet and is a member of the NCAA Football Special Events Certification Committee. He also served a four-year term on the NCAA's Baseball Committee.
In 1989, Castiglione was founder of NACMA, an organization he served four terms as president (1990-93). In 1997, he was honored by NACMA for his contributions to intercollegiate sports marketing. He was named to The Sporting News' Powers That Will Be List in 2000. Locally, he is a board member with the Cleveland County United Way and is an executive board member with the Jim Thorpe Association.