April 1, 2010 * Enterprise Reporting Special *
Story and Photo By Ken Krayeske • 11:40 AM EST
When a millionaire college basketball coach tells you "Not a dime back," he means it.
At least that's the picture that emerges from a months-long investigation into the 2008 calendar year recruiting expenses of two perennial men's college basketball powerhouses, the University of Connecticut and the University of North Carolina.
Wealthy basketball coaches and their well-paid assistants at public universities like UNC and UConn enjoy perks like free meals and limo rides, but the full picture of dollars spent on recruiting top talent across the world is muddied because of poor compliance and outright obfuscation or ignoring requests for information.
Identical Freedom of Information Act requests sent to the two public universities for the travel expenses and reimbursements for the year 2008 for coaches certified as recruiters by the NCAA by the did not generate the same data set.
Thus, the full story of every penny spent by the two public universities in securing commitments from players for the 2009 season and beyond is untold. From what documents The 40-Year Plan did receive, we created a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and their categories (with special thanks to researcher Catherine Moriarty).
The UConn men's coaching staff spent at least $220,565.71 ($142,877.11 in flights alone), and likely much more, in 2008 recruiting players. A .PDF of the expense forms from UConn is here.
Although on the budget forms UConn submitted to the NCAA and the Federal Department of Education, the Huskies claim $247,404 in recruiting expenses for basketball. Comparatively, the UConn women's basketball team spent $108,594 recruiting in 2008.
The UNC coaching staff spent at minimum $68,358.11. About half of that is accounted for in receipts, the remainder is identified on travel reimbursement forms but no receipts are provided. Much more seems unaccounted for because UNC failed to turn over its credit card records where many of the expenses seem to be.
Considering that UNC won the national championship in 2009, and UConn made it to the Final Four that same year, it is hard to fathom that competing programs like UNC and UConn do not spend like amounts in recruiting talent.
Calhoun's expenses range from huge - like $45,876.51 in flights for one year; to the medium, like a $1,186 limousine ride from Hartford to Jersey City, New Jersey; to the small, like a $165.81 dinner at his house in Pomfret for a recruit; to the puny, like $3.10 for what appears to be the commute from his home to the Storrs campus.
UNC coach Roy Williams actually reimbursed UNC for a $130 limo ride, but North Carolina's $1.5 million a year man submitted receipts seeking a $2 reimbursement for newspapers. When Williams enjoys the use of a dealer car on occassion, he won't charge the UNC for mileage.
Williams has a similar range of expenses as Calhoun, although Williams does not log as much in flight costs because donors grant him the use of a private jet, which UNC refused to reveal information about. UNC also gave the Federal Department of Education far less info than UConn.
Williams also lost the receipts for multiple meal expenses, and handwrote the costs, indicating that no alcohol was consumed at the meal, according to UNC reimbursement rules.