Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione: NCAA's decision to cancel championships 'probably hasn't all set in yet'

University of Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione shows how staff will use a Biometrix finger reader to get into the building at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

Joe Castiglione spoke about turning words into action amid the ongoing wave of national anti-racist protests, which he likened to a movement.

Oklahoma’s athletic director said he is committed to more than talk, and acknowledged that while minority hires have been a priority at OU, he believes his department can do better to promote inclusion.

“Internally we can do more,” he said. “The programs that we’ve had in place for several years can be even more robust. We’ve had conversations. We’ve had programs. We have focused on hiring practices. But we can do a lot more.”

Tim Langford, who was promoted in May to lead the men’s and women’s cross-country and track program, is OU’s only minority member with a head coach title currently.

“It has to be a priority. We have jobs, quite candidly, roles in departments in our profession that don't have the depth of diversity in the candidate pool. One can discuss the ethnicity component or the gender component,” Castiglione said. “We want to be inclusive, period. It's the effort to try to find the best people to serve in the roles that we have to offer. And what they do in that role to fulfill their position and strengthen our culture.

“It has been a priority for me for a long, long time. And there's always ways we find that we can improve. I don't know that I can say it any plainer than that.”

Head coach and coordinator positions at FBS autonomy schools in 2019 were occupied predominantly by white males, making up 80% according to the NCAA demographics database. Black males held 14% of those jobs.

White males made up 68% of the offensive and defensive coordinator positions, according to the database. In the Big 12, OSU’s Kasey Dunn is the league’s only minority offensive coordinator.

Some efforts have been made to close the gap across the sports landscape. The NFL recently tabled a proposal designed to increase minority head coaches and general managers in its league by incentivizing those hires with better draft positions.

When OU hired John Blake to lead its football program in 1996, he was the school’s first black head coach in any sport. Rodney Price, OU's first black track & field coach, was hired in 1997 as a co-head coach.

Those moves pre-dated the hire of Castiglione, who made Jeff Capel the Sooners’ first black men’s basketball coach in 2006.

Last week, Castiglione marched with protesters onto OU’s campus — many of them students — and said he had individual conversations with people there. He believes the changes OU is planning for future will stem directly from those talks.

Asked whether he would consider giving athletes a mandatory day off on Nov. 3 to vote in the election, Castiglione said he would, and even expanded that to staff members. Additional education on ballot issues should also be part of the initiative, he added.

“I know that a lot of this, at the moment, sounds like a bunch of words,” Castiglione said, “but the words really need to start turning into more actionable steps. And they will.”

Tyler Palmateer

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tpalmateer@normantranscript.com

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