Key takeaways from recruiting costs for Power Five schools

Photo: RIck Wood/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Key takeaways from recruiting costs for Power Five schools

Boys Basketball

Key takeaways from recruiting costs for Power Five schools


The Courier Journal and USA TODAY Network, in partnership with Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, has examined how much each public school in a Power Five conference has been spending to recruit athletes in football and men’s basketball.

Here are 10 things that stood out:

1. Most with the least: Wisconsin

Wisconsin ranked last among the 52 Power Five public schools in recruiting spending for both football and men’s basketball from the fiscal year 2013 through 2018.

In football, Wisconsin’s six-year total was roughly $1.63 million, which was about $500,000 less than any other Power Five public program. Meanwhile, Wisconsin collectively spent $439,566 in men’s basketball recruiting in the six years, a total that was surpassed by Indiana and Kentucky in each of the past six years alone.

Nonetheless, the Badgers’ football program has averaged more than 10 wins each of the past six years, during which the Badgers’ men’s basketball team reached two Final Fours.

Others who’ve done a lot with a little include (national ranking out of 52 Power Five public schools in parenthesis):

  • Iowa (44), Washington State (48), Mississippi State (50) and Oklahoma State (51) in football.
  • Michigan (29), Michigan State (31), Virginia (32), UCLA (45), North Carolina (48) and Maryland (49) in men’s basketball.
  • Additionally, Ohio State’s football program has been a national powerhouse despite ranking 24th nationally and seventh (of 13) in the Big Ten for the six-year period.

2. SEC leads the way nationally

In football over the six-year period from 2013 to 2018, the nation’s top four public-school recruiting spenders — and eight of the top 15 — were in the Southeastern Conference.

The top three — Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee — each spent more than $9 million during the six-year period (no one else reached $7 million) and collectively spent about as much as the bottom 11 programs of the 52.

3. Conference call: Ducks out West

In contrast to the SEC, the highest football spender in the Pac-12 Conference — Oregon — was only 16th nationally during the six-year period.

Oregon was only 27th nationally in men’s basketball spending, yet the Ducks led the Pac-12 in both sports, making that league the only one in which one school spent the most for both football and men’s basketball recruiting.

Here were the six-year leaders in each conference for each sport (national rank and next highest conference school in parenthesis):


  • ACC: Florida State (6th, $289,405 more than Clemson)
  • Big 10: Penn State (5th, $590,158 more than Michigan)
  • Big 12: Oklahoma (7th, $1.33 million more than Iowa State)
  • Pac-12: Oregon (16th, $806,005 more than Utah)
  • SEC: Georgia (1st, $600,334 more than Alabama)

Men’s basketball

  • ACC: Louisville (4th, $383,085 more than NC State)
  • Big 10: Indiana (1st, $789,833 more than Illinois)
  • Big 12: Kansas (3rd, $872,939 more than Texas)
  • Pac-12: Oregon (27th, $43,171 more than Arizona)
  • SEC: Kentucky (2nd, $1.12 million more than Texas A&M)

‘Recruiting has become 24/7’: Early signing has increased football programs’ costs

4. Rising and falling: football

From total amounts spent on recruiting in 2013 to total amounts in 2018, which schools’ recruiting expenditures increased the most percentage-wise for football?

  • Georgia (351.7%)
  • Texas A&M (326.3%)
  • Florida State (271.4%)
  • Louisville (247.1%)
  • Texas (232.1%)
  • Clemson (190%)

Of 52 Power Five public schools, only six spent less in 2018 than 2013 to recruit in football:

  • Auburn (-21.8%)
  • Georgia Tech (-21.6%)
  • Arizona State (-19.5%)
  • Texas Tech (-14.1%)
  • Illinois (-6.6%)
  • Mississippi State (-3.3%)

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