We're almost through the second of three July evaluation periods, the busiest time of the year for college basketball recruiting. Across the country, college coaches are swarming to high school gyms and fieldhouses in masses to compete for the nation's top high school players.
So when The Indianapolis Star released Indiana's basketball recruiting budget for 2013-14 on Friday night, it seemed like a timely story idea. And it is. Here's what they found:
Indiana spent $673,708 on recruiting during that span, more than $240K more than the next closest school in the Big Ten (Illinois). The story also points out that Purdue spent just under $200K on basketball recruiting during the same time.
Seems crazy, right? Maybe so. But here's what I'm here to tell you: Those figures are not a big deal.
The simple truth of the matter is this: Recruiting ain't free. On weekends such as this one, the big tournaments and events are so spread out that you can't help but spend and spend and spend. Under Armour Finals in Atlanta. Adidas All-American Camp in New York. Nike Global Challenge in Chicago. Cream of the Crop and Battle of the Beach in Los Angeles. Best of the Midwest in Indy. Oladipo/Lawson Camp in Maryland. Another event in St. Louis.
In years' past, college coaches have had to fly from Las Vegas to Georgia to see the biggest events in the final July period. It's crazy, but it's the reality of the fast-paced, highly-competitive world of AAU basketball and college recruiting.
Could Indiana spend a little less? Probably, yes. But in the grand scheme of things, consider this: The Indiana basketball program made more than $22 million in 2013-14. It spent $673K on recruiting. Purdue spent less than $200K, but what did the program bring in? Nothing close to Indiana's figure.
Two more things to consider:
1. Is every school reporting all of their recruiting-related expenses? My guess is no. Crean, though, is so organized and meticulous, so you can bet Indiana reports all of theirs.
2. It'd be one thing to spend the most money on recruiting and never reap any of the benefits. And while IU hasn't advanced past the Sweet Sixteen during Crean's tenure, he has secured several top 15 recruiting classes, and he's brought in a McDonald's All-American in five straight years. Sure, three of those guys were from Indiana and didn't require Crean to eat up a huge portion of the recruiting budget. But the other two -- Noah Vonleh and Thomas Bryant -- as well as four-star targets Troy Williams and Robert Johnson, came from the far East Coast.
It's easy to overreact when you see raw numbers that seem to tell you one story. But before you do, consider all the factors at play that lead to those numbers, and I think you'll agree that Indiana's budget isn't a big deal.