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OU Athletics Chipping Away at Deficit

Updated:
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione
says his department is taking a hard line with cost control and
with a new budget that seeks $1 million less in operating money for
the next fiscal year while chipping away at a $7.9 million deficit.

Castiglione will present a $22.9 million budget proposal for
fiscal year 2000 to the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents
next month.

The budget request, which is the first developed entirely under
Castiglione's guidance, includes a $100,000 payment toward reducing
the $7.9 million deficit.

"We know that is a small step," Castiglione said. "But at
least it's a step in good faith. It shows we are taking
responsibility for our financial well-being."

The regents approved a $23.9 million budget for the current
fiscal year.

"... we've reversed the trend and are taking a real hard-line
with cost control and with this (new budget)," Castiglione said.

The department has trimmed staff by 25. Castiglione said where
there were retirements or departures, the responsibilities have
been absorbed by remaining staff.

Castiglione said had it not been for one-time expenses, the
department would have had an operating surplus for FY1999. Those
expenses included $1 million for the firing of coach John Blake and
the hiring of Bob Stoops.

Other expenses included startup costs associated with either
construction or renovation of the Barry Switzer Center, the Charlie
Coe Golf Center and the L.Dale Mitchell baseball park.

Castiglione, who will ask each sport to tighten its belt, has
revamped or implemented several revenue-enhancing projects to go
along with the program's lifeblood revenue sources of ticket sales
and annual giving.

A new multimedia rights contract is expected to generate at
least $300,000 more than what the old deal made in fiscal year
1999. Castiglione also restructured the marketing and promotions
departments and the donor program, and is studying moneymaking
opportunities via the Internet.

There are plans to expand the budget in the future, said
Castiglione, who added that he doesn't expect any cuts to affect
OU's mission to allow student-athletes to develop their skills at
the highest level in the classroom and on the playing field.

"We have an athletic program that is geared toward competing
for conference and national championships," he said.

"That's the expectation of our fans and the athletic
director."

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