The Wildcats will be playing tonight in the Sweet 16, and though they feature a team with 3 freshman in the starting lineup, those 3 freshman came at a high cost, legally.* According to a report in Bloomberg, no team spends more money on college basketball recruiting than the University of Kentucky.
Kentucky spent $434,095 in fiscal 2010. The University of Kansas was second with $419,228 and Florida third with $326,306, according to expense reports from 53 schools obtained through open-records requests. Private schools such as Duke University aren’t required to divulge the information.
Interestingly enough, up until last summer when Tom Izzo received a considerable increase in salary from Michigan State University, those same schools mentioned above also had the 3 highest paid coaches in the country for public schools. Kentucky coach John Calipari makes $4 million per year, while Bill Self and Billy Donovan both make over $3 million per.
When numbers are reported like Kentucky’s, many are tempted to point to as wasteful spending of state dollars, but the fact is that Kentucky basketball generates a ridiculous amount of money. In fact, they are rarely ever in the red. According to the same Bloomberg report, Kentucky is operating with $5.2 million in profit in fiscal 2010 on $16.8 million in revenue. Hard to squawk at a program that is pretty much self-sustaining. Though, the die-hard Kentucky fans would rather see their team win games than worry about the infrastructure of the state. This is not an exaggeration.
What also needs to be taken into consideration is the location of Kentucky as well as the other two rounding out the top 3. The state of Kentucky isn’t exactly churning out top high school basketball talent, and that forces them to go out of state with their recruiting, thus requiring a lot more travel. Florida is not necessarily within driving distance of most of the top recruits in their state, and the talent isn’t necessarily deep in the state either as most athletes in Florida are being recruited for football. Kansas is plopped in the middle of the heartland, requiring them to travel as well. However, unlike Kentucky, Kansas’ and Florida’s spending on their recruiting and coaching has paid dividends with 3 national titles between them in the last 5 years, while Kentucky flames out even though they’ve had 4 1st round draft picks in their starting lineup recently.
The flip side of this, is a team like Wisconsin, who was eliminated last night by another school that recruits locally, Butler. The Badgers had 15 of their 17 recruits come from within the state or a neighboring one. This is a more common occurrence within Big 10 schools, as many of them fight for recruits within their own state with neighboring Big Ten opponents.
Does spending more necessarily gate more? In terms of Kentucky Basketball it does. As stated above, the numbers are pretty concrete. They are more willing to spend more money than anyone else to help compete for a national title each season, and they continue to succeed monetarily even though they may fall short of their ultimate goal on the court.
*probably illegally as well