The OU revealed Thursday that it has created a committee to manage the university’s internal and external needs as it prepares to enter the Southeastern Conference by 2025.
Eric Stevenson, the chairman of the OU’s board of directors who oversees administration and operations, told the group’s meeting in Tulsa that athletic director Joe Castiglione had assembled a small team to prepare for the future move.
“We continue to make great progress on our preparation to move to the SEC,” Stevenson said. “Joe and his team have put together a strong committee to support the internal needs of the OU and the external community to ensure that we are ready when we move to SEC and we continue to be on the right track. path for this to happen in 2025.”
OU Chairman Joseph Harroz said after the meeting that Lawrence McKinney, director of the Norman Economic Development Coalition, will lead the SEC Preparedness Coalition, advising the Norman Chamber of Commerce, the university and the business world. local business on the implications of a conference shift that will boost tourism, restaurants, hotel stays and more in the years to come.
Prior to his work at Norman, McKinney was CEO of several public and private economic development organizations in Florida and Georgia. This included Athens, home of the University of Georgia – one of many new enemies the Sooners will face and whose infrastructure they will seek to emulate in the SEC.
The broader SEC prep efforts by the university and the athletics department have steadily come to light in the months since former football coach Lincoln Riley left for Southern California.
Castiglione said last November that UO administrators had begun a “full reviewfrom the athletics department, which included visiting a handful of SEC schools to get an overview of finances, personnel and development.
In March, the McCasland Foundation donated $1.25 million to upgrade the lobby, locker rooms, coaches’ offices and practice areas inside McCasland Field House. The foundation also contributed $500,000 to field of lovethe new softball stadium which received its main donation from Love’s Travel Stops last October and is expected to open in 2024.
This summer, OU demolished the Bud Wilkinson House, the former sports dormitory on the northeast corner of Lindsey Street and Jenkins Avenue, giving it a blank canvas immediately east of Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and north of Headington Hall, which since 2013 has served as housing for student-athletes.
“We’ve come to the conclusion after carefully considering all the options… we’re basically going to scrap the structure,” Castiglione told OU Daily in March. “And it will be a site for future concepts that we are looking at…something on this site that will meet the needs of our sports program.”
The university has considered moving student-athlete academic services to the liberated area or transforming them into common collaborative learning spaces, administrative offices, Varsity O-Club facilities, or a multipurpose space.
Regents also considered updates to Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Lloyd Noble Center, L. Dale Mitchell Park, the current OU Softball Complex, Sam Viersen Gymnastics Center, Mosier Indoor Track Facility, Headington Family Tennis Center and Charlie Coe Golf Learning Center at their May meeting.
Earlier in September, the installation of new LED lights with creative sequencing capabilities was completed at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The University launched a new light show it hopes to one day rival that of other SEC schools in its Sept. 11 game against Kent State.