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Jeff Capel fired as Oklahoma basketball coach

Jeff Capel fired by the Oklahoma Sooners after five seasons.
by Berry Tramel Modified: March 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm •  Published: March 14, 2011

Because it's spring break, Castiglione and OU staff members held a teleconference with players to inform them of the decision and to encourage them to stay with the program.

The turning point for Capel was last spring when McDonald's All-Americans Willie Warren, Tiny Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin all turned pro. Gallon’s decision followed an NCAA investigation that his mother allegedly received a $3,000 loan from a financial advisor.

The investigation hasn't been closed and because no new information has surfaced surrounding former OU assistant Oronde Taliaferro possibly being involved in the alleged loan, OU might avoid major sanctions. But the investigation undoubtedly hurt recruiting.

Some have criticized Capel for signing talented players with questionable character but he wasn’t alone in pursuing those players. Warren's final four choices were OU, Kansas, Connecticut and Cincinnati, while Mason-Griffin's final three choices were OU, Texas and Memphis when John Calipari was at Memphis.

The player defections resulted in Capel being forced to scramble to put together a roster last that went 14-18 this past season, including a first-round loss in the Big 12 Tournament.

If everyone returns, the Sooners will return four starters and six of its top seven scorers. But the new coach's biggest challenge will be to upgrade the talent.

"We understand the cause and effect of everything," Castiglione said. "We have to expect that amount of time (necessary) to build the program. In some sports the growth curve is a little shorter. But we're not a program that will ever take shortcuts.

"We want to build it right. We want to build it strong so it's sustainable in the future, not just our program's ability to be successful but for the fans to embrace the characteristics of the program."

Blog: Who should replace Capel? Tramel: Readers sound-off on Capel Tramel: Firing was a business decision
by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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