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Kentucky basketball saw dramatic increase in recruiting spending in 2018-19

John Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff have been on a recruiting tear over the course of the last year, grinding on a week-to-week basis to earn the No. 1 overall spot in the 2020 recruiting rankings after picking up six signatures in the fall signing period from the likes of five-star guards Terrence Clarke, BJ Boston, Devin Askew, five-star forwards Isaiah Jackson and Lance Ware, and four-star forward Cam’Ron Fletcher.

And according to Kentucky’s latest financial report submitted to the NCAA, those countless hours on the road added up in total recruiting spending.

In a report published by the Courier-Journal, the UK basketball program spent $1.07 million on recruiting in 2018-19, a 66% jump – roughly $429,000 more – from the 2017-18 recruiting season in which they spent roughly $641,000.

According to the report, Kentucky has never spent more than $664,157 in a single year on recruiting, with the program spending anywhere between $600,000 and $665,000 on recruiting in each of the previous four years.

Kentucky’s mark of $1.07 million last year reportedly “blew past the previous leader in men’s basketball spending among public Power 5 conference programs.”

Previous reporting from the USA TODAY in partnership with Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications revealed Kentucky was one of just two Power 5 conference programs to spend at least $3 million on men’s basketball recruiting from 2013 to 2018.

Indiana topped that list at more than $3.5 million over the six-year period and spent more than any other men’s basketball program on recruiting in 2017-18 at $739,722. The Hoosiers’ spending increased to $782,757 in 2018-19, according to that school’s financial report filed with the NCAA.

The financial report covers the period between July 2018 and June 2019, meaning this number is a direct reflection of the 2019 recruiting class featuring the likes of Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, Keion Brooks Jr., Johnny Juzang, Dontaie Allen, and Nate Sestina, to go with laying the groundwork this past summer for the program’s No. 1-ranked class in 2020.

According to the Courier-Journal, a UK spokesman “declined to point to specific reasons the recruiting spending increased so much between fiscal year 2018 and 2019 but confirmed the number reflected an actual increase in spending, not a change in the way previous expenses were accounted for in the financial report.”

“We want to be responsible and I think we’ll look to limit where possible, but at the same time we don’t want to restrict ourselves and cost ourselves chances at the kind of guys that we need,” said Guy Ramsey, UK’s director of strategic communication, via the Courier-Journal.

In the same report, it was also noted that the Kentucky football program also saw its recruiting spending increased by 30.7% ($243,354) from $791,863 in 2017-18 to $1.035 million in 2018-19.

For the entire report, head over to the Courier-Journal right here. 

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

17 Comments for Kentucky basketball saw dramatic increase in recruiting spending in 2018-19



  1. Rob
    4:39 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

    Oh boy….. The Cal haters are gonna love this one!



    • mashburnfan1
      9:57 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

      Cost more to get the better players, handshake fees have gone up I guess.



  2. plumloopy
    4:54 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

    It feels like being #1 based on quantity of mid-tier 5-stars isn’t going to cut it – you need the 1 or 2 truly transformative recruits to compete at the top. We were actually the #1 class in 2019 (if you remove James Wiseman from Memphis), yet even with 5 star upper classmen, we’re struggling to remain in the top 15.



  3. bigblue2284
    4:56 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

    This doesn’t mean much, budgets tend to increase over time. The real reason Cal isn’t landing top 10 guys is because he plays an old tired brand of basketball that isn’t fun to play. Elite players prefer up tempo systems with more spacing, that’s not Cal.



    • Brutal Hustler
      5:22 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

      Are you talking about John Calipari? The one that coaches Kentucky basketball? Cuz he does run a player friendly offense and he is landing top ten guys. Did you mean Cal as in University of California Golden Bears?



    • timbo
      5:48 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

      No kidding. An offense called “dribble drive”, that is exactly what is used in the NBA? “Circle”, designed to allow for a drive off a handoff, a baseline drive or corner 3? A high screen and roll that is run at every single program but just results in more lob dunks because of the lite talent and size? Great comments, Blue.



  4. JASUN74
    5:15 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

    I don’t really care what they spend to tell you the truth. The SEC MONEY IS huge and every team is getting better players around our league. We need to do whatever it takes to get who Cal wants! Not Plumloopy!! Let Cal worry about all that stuff my friend. Lol.

    Anyway, the dumbest thing in the world is the football team not being three times the basketball budget. If we want to continue to rise in football, we need to spend the money and do it like the top programs. It’s the real money maker in college sports and actually makes the school money. Our basketball program, while they are self sustaining, they’re only one of very few.

    I Love and breathe Kentucky basketball, but nothing in the world compares to college football. Anyway, I like where we’re heading but I hate it took soo long for the University to finally get serious about Football. Go Cats



    • Brutal Hustler
      5:31 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

      We have spent millions upon millions for the football team. We have all new/remodeled everything, coaches are getting raises annually, we’re recruiting at a level never before seen here.

      Top football programs also sell out all home games, while we currently aren’t. I know rising ticket costs, poor weather, and lack of in-stadium alcohol all contribute to that, but still. Why should the university keep increasing football spending when we weren’t selling out games the year after Josh Allen and Benny won the biggest bowl game in half a century?



    • peaches76
      9:34 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

      Top level teams…not sure who/how many you are referencing…do not sell out all home games, but still spend significantly more on football than we do…and have for many, many years.



  5. classof68
    5:15 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

    Sounds like Cal has ramped up recruiting which has been my main concern. Now if he can just get a big man, next year looks better.



  6. Brutal Hustler
    5:17 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

    The Cade Cunningham Effect



  7. walden
    5:47 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

    Just goes to show you, throwing money at it doesn’t result in a better product. Look at Indiana spending the most.
    Kentucky needs an elite home and away game added to the schedule. The cats need an assistant coach like Antigua & Rohrssen added that is a proven recruiter. These are the things that are different when comparing 2010-2015 to 2016-2120. Elite recruits gravitate to elite recruiters and elite competition.



  8. timbo
    5:50 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

    If I’m Indiana AD or president, I’m firing the guy that does the ROI calculation



  9. Bluebloodtoo
    8:00 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

    From a business perspective, you almost double your spend but only go up one point in the recruiting rankings… that’s not a good look on the surface. I do understand that the one point is the top of the rankings, but still. Doesn’t seem to be worth it.



  10. Righteous1
    8:49 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

    Ramped up recruiting? So Calipari spent 1 million dollars to bring in 4 freshmen and 1 graduate transfer for a #3 ranking in recruiting. Mark Stoops spends approximately the same amount to bring in 25 players. Something wrong with this picture!



  11. Righteous1
    9:23 pm February 6, 2020 Permalink

    Let’s take a look at this. UK Football passed basketball in 2016 as the money maker. 10.8 million in football compared to 8.8 million. Our football facilities are rated #15 in the nation by the Bleacher Report but #9 in the SEC which is stunning since what we have spent to upgrade. Tennessee, Georgia, Florida in the east all have over 100 million dollar football budgets and have profits 70 to 85 million each. UK has a budget and profit margin half of that. So we are asking Coach Stoops to win a championship against the odds and he makes 4 million less than Calipari who has the top budget and facilities in the SEC in basketball but no Final 4 appearance in 4 yrs and is behind Auburn in total wins over the last 3 yrs and is 3-5 against Rick Barnes at Tennessee? Come on Cal Lovers Wolfpack , we see Coach Stoops elevating the football program but what is Calipari doing besides preparing the most important day of the year in June? Before you talk about Calipari players from the past, I have yet to read a KSR article on donations from that group for upgrades on Wilcat Lodge, Craft Center etc.!



  12. CahillsCrossingNT
    7:14 am February 7, 2020 Permalink

    I’m not sure what good the increased budget does. In the end it’s still the same coach, who generally underachieves.