Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione to be Honored Tonight

University of Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione will be recognized as Oklahoma City University’s 2013-14 recipient of the Abe Lemons/Paul Hansen Award for Sports Excellence at the annual OCU Sports Spectacular dinner and auction 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 2 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

The Abe Lemons/Paul Hansen Award honors an individual who significantly contributes to the growth of sports in the state. Last year's honoree was Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti.

Past award winners are Ron Norick, Clay Bennett, Lee Allan Smith, Dr. William Grana, Stanley Draper Jr., Bob Funk, Barry Switzer, Mick Cornett, the late Bobby Murcer, Bart Conner, Bill Self, Tom J. McDaniel, Sherri Coale and Mike Knopp.

The OCU Sports Spectacular includes a dinner, entertainment and live and silent auctions. Proceeds benefit OCU's 21 varsity intercollegiate sports programs and the Paul Hansen Memorial Scholarship and the Abe Lemons Endowed Athletic Scholarship. Those scholarships provide funding to OCU student-athletes who have completed their eligibility and are within one year of graduation.

The auction typically features a variety of items. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is located on 1700 NE 63rd Street in Oklahoma City. Individual tickets are $100, and tables for eight are $750. Please RSVP by March 25. For ticket or sponsorship information or to donate auction items, call (405) 208-5660 or (405) 208-5309.

“Joe Castiglione is a terrific honoree with how significant and lasting contributions as athletic director at the University of Oklahoma are,” Oklahoma City University athletic director Jim Abbott said. “This event is critical to the success of our athletic department in that we depend on the funds the event raises to support our teams. We look forward to honoring Joe for his outstanding contributions to sports in Oklahoma.”

With eight national championships and 60 conference titles, including seven in the 2012-13 academic year, during his tenure, Castiglione’s record as Oklahoma athletic director is certainly one of great merit. An all-time best finish of seventh in the annual Director’s Cup standings following the 2012-13 academic year adds to the Sooner story. So does the kind of academic performance that produced a combined grade point average of more than 3.00 among the nearly 600 OU student-athletes and a record 151 graduates in 2013.

The seventh-place finish in the annual Learfield Director’s Cup rankings in 2012-13 extended a four-year streak of top-15 finishes for OU. It also marked the 13th time in the 15-year Castiglione tenure that OU has ranked in the top 30. Oklahoma’s latest finish was built through overall success in competition. OU sent all 10 spring sport teams to the postseason and a total of eight teams, led by the 2013 softball team’s national championship, finished in the top 10 throughout the season. That number included runner-up NCAA finishes by the men's and women's gymnastics.

In recognition of the many achievements of his tenure, Castiglione was named National Athletic Director of the Year in May 2009 by the Sports Business Journal. In June, the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame named him the 2013 recipient of the John L. Toner Award, presented annually by the NFF to an athletic director who has demonstrated superior administrative abilities and shown outstanding dedication to college athletics and particularly college football.

Castiglione was instrumental in the athletics department’s major campaign, Great Expectations: The Campaign For Sooner Sports. The largest fund-raising effort in OU athletics history included projects that impact 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 grown to more than $330 million since then.

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.

His involvement in the local community has led to service with civic clubs, churches and charities, including the United Way of Norman. In 2012-13, OU Athletics representatives logged a staggering 2,561 hours of community service.

A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Castiglione is married to the former Kristen Bartel, a graduate of the University of Missouri. They have two sons, Joseph Robert, Jr. and Jonathan Edmund.

/// SoonerSports PR
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