The quick answer is simple: Money. Louisiana Tech ranked 201 out of 326 teams in 2010 expenses with $1.33 million spent on men's basketball. That figure is in the bottom third of the league when it comes to teams in the Western Athletic Conference. With Nevada and Fresno on the way out of the league, Louisiana Tech's budget will be in the midde of the pack along with Texas San-Antonio and Idaho in the WAC.
Unfortunatly, having a large budget compared to your conference mates will not get you in the tournament. Especially if you consider a lot of that budget is set aside for travel. Louisiana Tech needs some serious cash infusion when it comes to recruiting budget and staff salaries.
There are two cliches I can come up with to further argue my point. First, you get what you pay for. On the other hand, what came first: the chicken or egg? Tech's attendance has been less than stellar. Ticket sales have to go up in order for the program to bring in more money. For more people to come watch, the team has to win.
Michael White knows about dealing with small budgets. Ole Miss ranked last in the SEC with $3.3 million. Every other SEC team spent at least $4 million on basketball in 2010, and seven of the league's teams spent over $6.4 million. All seven teams landed in the top 25 for spending, led by #2 Kentucky at $11.5 million and #12 Florida, who spent right at $8 million.
White was still able to recruit talented players to Ole Miss. He had to do his homework and he had to find hidden gems. At his press conference on Wednesday, he brought up Jamal Jones from Searcy, AR. The 6'8" Jones had no other SEC offers, but signed with Ole Miss this season. While Jones is yet to step on campus up in Oxford, Chris Warren is on his way out. White said Warren chose Ole Miss over VCU and Old Dominion. In his four years in Oxford, Warren became jus the fourth SEC player to score 2,000 career points and dish out 400 dimes. He joins an impressive list of players on that list: Alan Houston, Pete Maravich, and Litterial Green.
Do you have to have a top 50 budget to make it to the NCAA tournament? No, but you might want to look at what other's are spending. 65 teams went to the Big Dance in 2010 and most of the teams in the conversation spent at least $2 million. That puts them in the top 130 budget range in the country.
VCU was #113 at $2.3 million. Butler was #98 at $2.8 million. George Mason spent $2.1 million, good for 123rd on the list. Saint Mary's was 122nd, also spending $2.1 million on basketball. Utah State, the largest budget in the WAC at $2.9 million, ranked 93rd. NMSU was not far behind at #108, spending $2.5 million.
Utah State averaged 9,700 fans in 2010, good for 47th in the country. VCU finished at 91, Nevada was at 93, and NMSU was at 96. Butler, with an average attendance of 6,850, finished ahead of Ole Miss. Ole Miss had 6,280 fans on average good for 85th in the country compared to Butler at 78.
Louisiana Tech averaged 2,400 fans for men's basketball games in 2010. That number needs to double in a hurry, just like the basketball budgets. That brings up yet another cliche; Rome wasn't built in a day.
Louisiana Tech has to get that budget up over $2 million as soon as possible. The attendance will come. Michael White will win fans over with his team's enthusiastic play and toughness. The wins will come, but the fans will have to buy in right away. The administration will have to do everything in their power to give Coach White an opportunity to succeed.
Maybe money can buy happiness, at least in March.