Examining the costs of recruiting

June, 12, 2012
ESPN.com colleague Mitch Sherman has a really interesting story today about the costs associated with recruiting in big-time football.

Sherman sifted through budget data from 99 of the 120 FBS schools to see how much teams spent on recruiting in 2010 and 2011. Some of the results were surprising. For example, Ohio State, which finished second nationally in football revenue, spent less on recruiting than Memphis and Army.

Then again, the Buckeyes have traditionally not had to look much outside their own state's borders for prospects, thus avoiding many travel costs.

As Sherman writes, recruiting budgets can account for travel to see prospects, on-campus visits and designing and distributing recruiting packets.

Here's how much the Big Ten schools surveyed spent on recruiting in 2010 and 2011 (Note: information for Northwestern and Penn State is not available because those schools are not subject to state open records laws):


2010: $537,773
2011: $545,363


2010: $272,625
2011: $270,134


2010: $207,117
2011: $307,226


2010: $489,412
2011: $577,663

Michigan State

2010: $390,289
2011: $383,448


2010: $615,063
2011: $348,609


2010: $344,471
2011: $478,554

Ohio State

2010: $297,342 2011: $320,938


2010: $528,095
2011: $428,805


2010: $230,227
2011: $204,181

Michigan spent more on recruiting than every other Big Ten school surveyed in 2011, followed by Illinois, which spent more in the two years combined than any other league team. Surprisingly, Minnesota led the way in 2010 under former coach Tim Brewster. The amount spent on recruiting decreased by almost half in 2011, the first year under Jerry Kill. Purdue was also a big spender in 2010. Wisconsin continues to get a lot of bang for its buck in recruiting, spending less on recruiting than every other Big Ten school surveyed yet continuing to churn out top-notch players. Iowa, which has increased its number of early commitments this year, saw a big jump in its recruiting budget from 2010 to 2011.

Big Ten schools still don't spend as much on recruiting as Tennessee, which budgeted nearly $1.5 million in 2011. Since that program recruits coast to coast, it's understandable. Defending national champion Alabama spent $980,000 on recruiting, while Auburn spent $950,000. By contrast, Boise State spent only $71,290 on recruiting in 2010. Yet the Broncos manage to do just fine on the football field.



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