Castiglione says search will be exhaustive

See inside for OU athletic director Joe Castiglione's comments on Sampson's departure and OU's coaching upcoming search. (AP Photo)

On Kelvin Sampson's departure

Castiglione: I think it is very important for us to express genuine and sincere appreciation to Kelvin Sampson, his family and his staff. Particularly those who have been here for 12 years and all the players who have been here throughout that 12-year period.

We appreciate what they have done for our program, it's been very special. We think in many ways that, in part, has helped create a high level of attractiveness and appeal for the University of Oklahoma as we move forward in this search.

I really appreciate what (Sampson) has done for us and his years of service to the University of Oklahoma. We wish him the very best at the University of Indiana. They are getting a great coach and an even better person.

On the Search Process President Boren has asked me to lead the search. If you followed our style in the past, that particular strategy does not involve a search committee per se. Obviously, I will seek the vast number of resources we have available to us whether it is in our own community or state, the experts in this business and the contacts that one can make in a searching process.

It will be exhaustive, it will be comprehensive and it will be very focused. Throughout that time, I will work very closely with the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents and obviously President Boren.

I really believe the search process can move quickly yet that does not mean at all hastily. I think you know me well enough that I'm not going to put a specific day and time in which we want to bring the new coach to you but we don't expect this to be a long process. We want to move and get the next leader here so they can start focusing our current team and program for success next year.

On if he's been preparing for the day when he would have to begin a search for a new basketball coach since he arrived at Oklahoma

Castiglione: I think so. I think any AD prepares for the unforeseen, at least to the extent that one can prepare. I really didn't look forward to this day per se, because I really enjoyed working with Kelvin Sampson every day. I knew his strengths, I knew, obviously, how successful he was in this league, and it's a very tough league. It's a coach's league. You couldn't find more than a couple or three leagues out there that has the strength across each one of the 12 institutions. But yet, I knew a day might come.

The one type of job opened and they had interest in him, and I understand the reasons why he decided it was best. And, so, I'm ready. I know that people want to question what kind of list I have, who might be on the list, how viable those candidates may be. And one doesn't really know that until you get in the throws of the process. They all seem to be great and they all seem to be people that may have interest, but then once you start to peel back layer after layer and find out, it gets a little bit more challenging, so we'll see.

But I feel like we're prepared. I feel like we have the contacts. I certainly know the places to go to get a clearer understanding of an individual's background. That's not only just toward a person's skill, their recruiting expertise, and their ability to find and assemble a great staff, how they work with key constituents, the media, the fans. All the different elements that make up a great basketball program.

And last but most importantly, how they fit in the mission that we have here at the University of Oklahoma.

On if style of play will be important when searching for a new coach

Castiglione: Sure.

On what type of style he wants

Castiglione: A style that leads us to more wins than losses. I don't know that I'm out there to pick a coach that plays a specific style. It's about winning basketball.

What is it that you're looking for? More style or substance? Of course, being the optimistic person I am I'd like to say both. But if I one had to choose, one in my mind better choose the substance over style. I've seen too many cases when sometimes people pick the style over substance, and it's just a matter of time before problems develop. We want someone we can hire with the intent of them being with us for a long period of time and competing at a consistently high level in our conference.

On if they are looking for a coach with a set amount of experience

Castiglione: I think, in our case, we'd like to find the person that has enough experiences to make the best transition to the University of Oklahoma program. I think you know from my past, I'm not afraid to hire a top assistant, maybe even one without any head coaching experience and that's not to say that I will. I think the situation here at Oklahoma is different, depending on those that are, I guess, more along the lines of the type we're seeking, that list may narrow itself pretty quickly.

I'm not going to time myself to a specific profile that one has to have that coaching experience, but obviously successful head coaching experience is something that will be very attractive.

On what they're doing now to keep in contact with the signed recruits

Castiglione: A good question. Actually, we've already started. I've personally been involved that process as well. As you know, coach Sampson signed a class last fall, and that's a good thing. We don't have a lot of recruiting for 06-07 left to do, yet I think we're also smart enough to realize that those who have made their pledge to come to the University of Oklahoma now have something to deal with in the form of a coach they signed with no longer being at the University that they made their commitment with. So we have to be careful, sensible, and sensitive to all of that, and we'll do that.

We'll stay in constant contact with them between calls that I made or the accesibility that I have to the student-athletes, as well as their families. We'll stay in touch. And our current assistants, for the period of time that they are with us, will continue to perform and fulfill the responsibilities they normally have, and that involves recruiting.

On if he'll consider coaches from mid-major conferences

Castiglione: Well, at this point and time it would be foolish on my part to narrow that list and not consider who the bright up and coming coaches really are. Some of them have had recent and immediate success, and some have proven year after year that they coach at a high level. The teams, regardless of the transitions they face — injuries, senior leadership departing, whatever — they seem to have their team always in the hunt for a conference championship. All of that figures into my thinking. I wouldn't write anyone off at those types of schools.

The Final Four is a perfect example right there for everyone to see. Basketball is a really special sport. Teams that people least expect can find their way well along in the race for a national championship.

On Kelvin Sampson's comments that he came to Indiana because he could win a championships there

Castiglione: Well, just taking the quote as you conveyed it, because when I walked in here the President of Indiana was still introducing him, so I never heard anything he said.

I truly believe we can win a national championship at Oklahoma. And the type of resources, the commitment, the staff we have, the leadership both from President Boren and from our board, the support we have in this community, I believe it's possible.

We came, just recently, as close as two victories from raising that trophy on the court in Atlanta. Now, that's not necessarily by luck. We have to have some good fortune, yes. You have to have some of those elements come together and stay clear of injuries and so on. But this men's basketball program has been to four Final Four's over it's history. There aren't many programs in our league that have been to any Final Fours.

A place like Oklahoma, with the resources we have right now, I absolutely believe it's possible. And I wouldn't want to hire any coach that didn't share the same passion, the same belief that we share.

On if he'll start his coaching search at the top of the coaching profession and work his way down

Castiglione: Obviously, there's some coaches at the very top of our profession that will not move under any circumstance. But I think I'd be making a mistake if I wasn't diligent to at least pursue the interest of the best coaches around the country.

Does that mean that we'll engage in any lengthy dialogue? I don't know. We may find out within the first minute of conversation that we can talk all day long and this isn't going to lead to anything. So, I have to be very smart about the use of my time.

I don't mind going after the best, but I think sometimes we can spend too much time pursuing people that really don't have an interest than focusing on those that really do. I want to find somebody that wants to take the reigns of the program where it is right now, which is pretty good, and see how much farther we can take it competitively both in a conference and nationally. So, I'll look at anybody.

On if he's already contacted any potential coaches

Castiglione: No.

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