Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione used most of his remarks Tuesday night at the Sooner Caravan event to highlight the remarkable on-field success and financial stability of his department.
But Castiglione also addressed challenges; most notably, the intense scrutiny college sports have come under in recent months.
The National Labor Relations Board's Chicago office ruled late last month that Northwestern University football players are employees under federal law and can unionize.
Castiglione himself was criticized in the public sphere late last month, when Bloomberg Businessweek reported the $30,000 bonus he received for the OU women’s gymnastic teams’ national championship.
“Probably never before has college athletics faced such scrutiny,” Castiglione said Tuesday. “Quite candidly, some of it, we’ve brought on ourselves. But on the other hand, we have, I guess, a model you could say is out of date.
“But what is not out of date is what we do. And what we try to do is provide a world-class experience for student-athletes. At the core of every one of our decisions is what’s best for the student-athletes we represent.
“We need a 21st century solution. I can tell you there are a lot of people in our industry that are poised to make that happen, regardless of the lawsuits. We’ve got to protect the collegiate model. Modernize its definition maybe, but protect the collegiate model. We are not professional sports.”
NOTHING CHANGES WITH PLAYOFF, STOOPS SAYS
Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops was asked during Tuesday’s event about the new College Football Playoff, which will create a four-team bracket to determine the national champion starting next year, when it replaces the Bowl Championship Series system.
“At the end of the day, nothing changes with how we prepare and how we work for the season,” Stoops said. “I think a lot of teams that haven’t been scheduling tough non-conference schedules may now start doing it. Joe Castiglione and I have been doing for 15 years. We play Tennessee next year. We just finished a four-year series with Notre Dame and Florida State. We were 3-1 in that series.
“It’s not many years that you get the chance to beat Notre Dame and Alabama in the same year. At the end of the day, we’ve always scheduled tough and that’s what we’ll keep doing. Other than that, everything stays the same.”
Stoops, asked about the lack of a quarterback controversy this year. Trevor Knight is the clear starter entering 2014 and Blake Bell switched to tight end: “I’d love to have a quarterback controversy if we had another great one. … It did free up Trevor’s mind a little bit that Blake’s good. He’s such a sensitive, quality guy that cares about Blake, that he knows he has a good home. That’s a positive.”