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Guest Post: How Oklahoma Softball Built its Dynasty by Embracing Change

Oklahoma is the industry leader in softball excellence thanks to dingers, transfers, and more:

Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

Today, I turn the time back over to longtime Extra Points contributor, Dr. Katie Lever. Dr.Lever is a former Division 1 athlete and current freelance sports writer whose work primarily focuses on women’s sports. She is also the award-winning author of Surviving the Second Tier, a dystopian novel about the dark side of college sports. See her latest work here and follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @leverfever.

Few things in life are certain, but there’s always death, taxes, and Oklahoma softball winning a national championship. And it might be heresy coming from a Texas alum, but I actually think we don’t talk about this Oklahoma dynasty enough, especially since they’ve managed to find ways to adapt to multiple seismic shifts in college sports policy, from NIL to realignment to the transfer portal. No matter the changes, Oklahoma softball has remained the industry standard for excellence. 

That excellence means hardware—earlier this month, the Sooners secured a historic fourth-straight NCAA title, beating Texas in two games for their eighth overall national championship. But how Oklahoma and their head coach Patty Gasso have dominated is almost as impressive as their on-field dominance.

As a program, Oklahoma softball has always embraced policy changes that the rest of the college sports industry has blocked or resisted. Perhaps that’s because July 1, 2021 (aka the day Florida’s NIL bill went into effect, forcing the NCAA adopt its interim NIL policies) fell right in the middle of an iconic career in the history of the sport: that of NCAA home run queen, Jocelyn Alo. Like other women in the NIL market, Alo recognized her earning potential amid the fluid NIL legal space early and planned accordingly.

“You have seen the hard work and dedication,” Alo tweeted on July 1, 2021. “You have watched the record-setting home runs. You have witnessed the national championship. I am now excited to show you the true Jocelyn Alo.” 

Before she was the NCAA’s official home run leader, the NIL market rewarded her for turning her quest to break the NCAA’s home run record into a business venture, as she became the centerpoint of Oklahoma’s first co-branded product (a Breaking T tee-shirt with her likeness and the caption “Home Run Queen”) after hitting her record-breaking home run in 2022 in her home state of Hawaii.

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