In 19 years at Oklahoma, Joe Castiglione has led a surging athletics department that has captured 17 national championships and 78 conference titles, while also setting records for grade point average and graduation rate. OU’s athletics success is legendary, and Castiglione’s tenure stands proudly among the best.
When he was hired at Oklahoma in April of 1998, Castiglione inherited one of the most storied programs in college athletics at a time when it was seeking stability and direction. He created a positive culture that emphasized core values, a dynamic mission and a collaborative spirit. The result is one of the nation’s best student-athlete experiences.
The 2016-17 school year yielded one of the most accomplished campaigns in school history with four national championships, a school record that gave OU a nation-leading seven over the last two years. Eighteen of 21 sport teams sent the full team or individuals to an NCAA championship and five teams finished in the top 10. In addition to the four national champions, football earned a No. 3 ranking.
The men’s and women’s gymnastics teams repeated as NCAA champions, making OU the only school in NCAA history to have both teams earn national championships in the same year for consecutive years. The men’s tennis doubles team of Andrew Harris and Spencer Papa won the school’s first NCAA men’s tennis championship, then the very next day, the men’s golf team won its second NCAA title. One week later, the Sooner softball team won its fourth NCAA title. It marked the 11th NCAA crown and third consecutive for men’s gymnastics. It was the fourth NCAA title for softball, second consecutive and third over a five-year span, and it was the second consecutive championship for women’s gymnastics.
That spirit of excellence went well beyond competition. The Sooner student-athletes had an 11th consecutive semester of a cumulative GPA at 3.00 or higher at the close of the spring 2017 semester. The 3.09 cumulative for the spring 2017 semester was a record for OU and a total of 71 student-athletes achieved perfect 4.0 GPAs in the spring, matching the total from the fall.
Seven OU programs registered a 100-percent multiyear Graduation Success Rate for the most recent reporting period and OU's most recent multiyear Graduation Success Rate of 85 percent is a school record that exceeds the NCAA national average.
A place where competitive dreams come true and academic excellence are the expectations, not the exceptions, has been created at OU by Castiglione with the full support of OU President David L. Boren and OU’s Board of Regents.
Upon his arrival, the 11th and second longest serving director of athletics at OU, Castiglione made a number of changes, and, in the process, created a team of administrators, eight of whom have gone on to other Division I athletics director posts, coaches and support staff who pursue and achieve lofty goals under the banner of ethical integrity.
That extends into the department’s finances. OU Athletics, one of the few self-sustaining departments nationally, has closed the books in the black in each of the last 19 years. Castiglione’s responsible approach has benefitted the general campus, as well. Through direct and indirect support, the athletics department provides more than $9 million annually to OU’s academics budget. It also established an endowment at Bizzell Library and partnered with President Boren’s office to eliminate the admission fee at OU’s internationally known Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.
Facility improvement and construction of athletics facilities have been carried out at a record pace and Castiglione takes pride in the fact that those improvements have been paid for with private money. Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium underwent a $160 million renovation that included filling in the bowl and creating new seating options for Sooner fans and entirely new team facilities, including locker room, training room, strength and training center and offices. Other improvements are planned throughout the historic facility in the Stadium Master Plan that includes multiple phases. A $7 million dollar improvement to the men’s and women’s basketball facilities at Lloyd Noble Center has begun and master plans for $10 million in renovations at baseball and $15 million at softball have been approved. These projects follow the completion of the $75 million Headington Hall, which provides housing for the general student population as well as student-athletes. The state-of-the-art building, which has won the President’s Trophy as the outstanding housing unit three of the last four years, opened in August 2013 and makes OU the leader in providing an engaging community living option for OU students.
Castiglione is quick to give full credit to the student-athletes and coaches, the staff, President Boren, the OU Board of Regents, the donors and the fans for the success experienced during his tenure. It’s a team approach that he has embraced throughout his successful career in athletics.
In recognition of the many achievements of his OU tenure, Castiglione was named National Athletic Director of the Year in May 2009 by the Sports Business Journal. He was a finalist for the same award in 2016. The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame named him the 2013 recipient of the John L. Toner Award. In April 2014, Castiglione received the Abe Lemons/Paul Hansen Award for Sports Excellence from Oklahoma City University.
His peers have honored him as well. In November 2012, the United States Sports Academy named him the winner of the Carl Maddox Sports Management Award. In October 2004, the Bobby Dodd Foundation named him 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. The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) named him Central Region AD of the Year in 2000.
The department received the 2007 PRISM Award, presented by the School of Sports Management at the University of Massachusetts.
The achievement that may bring him the most pride came in May 2007 when he completed a master’s of education degree from OU. Subsequently, he became an adjunct professor in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, teaching graduate classes in Marketing, Development and Leadership in Higher Education. He serves on the College’s Board of Advocates. He was recently recognized for his distinguished service by OU’s College of Arts & Sciences.
Castiglione was instrumental in the athletics department’s major campaign, Great Expectations: The Campaign for Sooner Sports. The then largest fund-raising effort in OU athletics history included projects that impacted each of OU’s 21 sports and has become a national model for intercollegiate athletics. The campaign ended three years later with more than $125 million raised and that figure has now grown to over $500 million as funds continue to be raised for facility improvements and scholarship endowments.
Hired on April 30, 1998, Castiglione joined the Sooner family after serving as athletics director at Missouri. In his 17-year career with the Tigers, Castiglione, who was named director of athletics at Missouri on Dec. 15, 1993, was credited with rebuilding sports programs, hiring outstanding coaches, implementing an innovative master plan for facilities, inspiring record-setting increases in fund-raising and balancing the budget in each of his five years as athletics director.
A 1979 Maryland graduate, Castiglione received the University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in April 2007 and he was inducted into the State of Missouri’s Sports Hall of Fame in November 2015. His career journey began as the sports promotions director at Rice. He then worked a year as director of athletic fund-raising at Georgetown before being hired in 1981 at Missouri as director of communications and marketing. He will mark his 25th year of serving student-athletes as an Athletics Director at two different institutions in the next academic year, 2017-18.
His commitment to the success of student-athletes has gone beyond the Norman campus and he has served at the national and conference level. He is currently serving on the NCAA’s Board of Governor’s Commission to Combat Sexual Violence on Campus. He served as chairman of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee for the 2015-16 academic year. He also chaired the NCAA’s Football Academic Progress Rate (APR) Working Group and completed service on the NCAA Working Group on Collegiate Model-Rules Committee. He also serves on the Gatorade Collegiate Advisory Board and the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors.
He served three terms as the chair of the Big 12 Board of Athletics Directors and is a past president of both the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association and NACDA. He served a four-year term on the NCAA Championship/Competition Cabinet and the NCAA Baseball Committee. He was also a member on the NCAA Diversity Leadership Strategic Planning Committee, the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Discussion Group, the United States Olympic Committee Athlete Career and Education Strategic Working Group and the NCAA Football Issues Committee, which he chaired. A former member of the Phi Delta Theta Foundation Board of Trustees, he is a highly requested speaker at annual conventions and continuing education institutes. In November 2011, his hometown recognized him by selecting him for the Broward County (Fla.) Sports Hall of Fame.
His involvement in the local community has led to service with civic clubs, churches and charities, including the United Way of Norman, recently serving his third term as OU’s campus co-chair, which resulted in the highest recorded contributions ever by faculty, staff and students to the United Way of Norman’s annual campaign. He encourages student-athletes and athletics staff to participate in those efforts as well, and in 2015-16, OU Athletics representatives logged more than 5,000 hours of community service.
A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Castiglione is married to the former Kristen Bartel, a 1990 graduate of the University of Missouri. They are the parents of two sons, Joseph, Jr., who is a junior at OU, and Jonathan, who will be a junior in high school.