Oklahoma football: OU AD says football upgrades about more than changing conferences

The OU Board of Regents on Tuesday approved an estimated $390 million in athletic upgrades, including plans for a new $175 million Oklahoma football operations facility and $9.5 million in improvements for the Lloyd Noble Center.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione stressed that the new football facility and other upgrades are part of the university’s master facilities plan and are not being done solely for competitive purposes associated with the upcoming move to the Southeastern Conference.

“Comparative analysis is always part of it,” Castiglione said Tuesday and reported by several news outlets including the OU Daily, the University of Oklahoma student newspaper.

“Sometimes (the media) frames it as keeping up with the Joneses,” he said. “I don’t think it’s that as much as it is that the quest to recruit the best and the brightest is as competitive as it’s ever been. And it’s an entirely new landscape.”

Since 2018, Oklahoma’s football operations have been located in the Switzer Center, which is part of Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium at the southeast end of the stadium complex. The Switzer Center was built at a cost of $160 million and holds locker rooms, offices, meeting rooms and training areas.

The plan is for all of this to move to the new facility when it is constructed. The exact location of the new football operations building will not be decided until the board of regents meets again in June.

Castiglione said some of the vacated office space in the 130,000-square foot Switzer Center will be repurposed into areas to provide for fan amenities as part of the stadium master plan. He said he sees much of the area being converted to support other athletic programs.

Talking about the facilities improvements in general, the Sooner athletic director said:

“We have to provide a comprehensive approach that makes OU the most attractive destination for the best and the brightest and do what we do best. Facilities are definitely a part of that.”