NORMAN — Long recognized as one of the nation's most effective and successful athletics directors, the University of Oklahoma's Joe Castiglione added another significant honor to his burgeoning list of accomplishments Monday when the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) announced him as one of four recipients of the 2017-18 Under Armour AD of the Year Award for the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Castiglione, who is in his 20th year as athletics director at OU, is joined by Texas Tech's Kirby Hocutt (a former associate AD at OU under Castiglione), Virginia Tech's Whit Babcock and Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez as this year's recipients. The award recognizes accomplishments from February 2017 through January 2018.
In its 20th year, NACDA's Athletics Director of the Year Program highlights the efforts of ADs at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses and their surrounding communities.
This marks the third time in Castiglione's OU tenure that he has won a national athletics-director-of-the-year award. In May 2009, he was named national AD of the year by Sports Business Journal, and was a finalist again in 2016. In October 2004, the Bobby Dodd Foundation also named him its AD of the year.
Hired on April 30, 1998, Castiglione has presided over the most successful era of athletics in school history. Nearly half of the Sooners' team national championships (17 of 36) have come since his arrival in Norman, and 10 have come in the last five years.
Under Castiglione's leadership, OU won four national championships in spring 2017 to give the Sooners a nation-leading seven over a two-year span.
The 2016-17 school year yielded one of the most accomplished campaigns in school history with four national championships in the spring, a school record that gave OU a nation-leading seven over a two-year span. And OU's spirit of excellence extends well beyond competition. Sooner student-athletes have posted a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher for each of the last 12 semesters. The 3.09 cumulative GPA for both the spring and fall 2017 semesters marked OU records.
Upon his arrival, the 11th and second-longest serving athletics director at OU, Castiglione made a number of changes and, in the process, created a team of administrators, 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 benefited the general campus, as well. Through direct and indirect support, the athletics department provides more than $9 million annually to OU's academics budget.
Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated polled 15 national print and TV media members, and 10 athletics directors in separate anonymous surveys asking who is the best AD in the nation. Castiglione was the top vote getter in both polls.
Winners of the Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year Awards will be honored during the James J. Corbett Awards Luncheon on Friday, June 29 at NACDA's 53rd Annual Convention at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
All NACDA-member directors of athletics in the United States, Canada and Mexico who met the criteria were eligible for the award. Among the criteria were service as an AD for a minimum of five academic years; demonstration of commitment to higher education and student-athletes; continuous teamwork, loyalty and excellence; and the ability to inspire individuals or groups to high levels of accomplishments. Additionally, each AD's institution must have passed a compliance check through its appropriate governing body (i.e., NCAA, NAIA, etc.), in which the institution could not have been on probation or cited for a lack of institutional control within the last five years during the tenure of the current athletics director.