Pitino's jet travel scrutinized: How much has U of M spent on recruiting in the past?


Gophers men's basketball head coach Richard Pitino racked up a bill of $325,000 using a jet for recruiting travel over the past three years – way over his budget of $150,000, the Associated Press reports.

The Pioneer Press published specifics from the report if you want details, but it's worth noting the Star Tribune reports all excess travel expenses were approved by the recently excused athletics director, Norwood Teague.

The figures come from an internal audit, which is set to be reviewed by the university's Board of Regents Thursday. But just based on what we know now, how does this fit in to the department's spending?

Overall team spending and revenue

The Gophers men's basketball team generated $12,890,066 in revenue from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

During the same period, the team totaled $9,049,050 in expenses – meaning they essentially generated $3.8 million for that year.

For comparison's sake, the football team recorded about $26.3 million in expenses that year – while bringing in $35.7 million.

Recruiting spending comparisons

USA Today conducted a five-year study analyzing the correlation between spending on recruiting, and reaching the NCAA Tournament.

Prior to Pitino arriving at Minnesota, the Gophers (under head coach Tubby Smith) spent an average of $172,000 on men's basketball recruiting from 2008-2013. Minnesota reached the NCAA Tournament twice in that five-year span.

The study analyzed 214 public universities and the average annual recruiting expense (lodging, travel, meals, etc. etc.) was $93,000. Here's a breakdown of Big Ten schools during that five-year period, with how much they spent each year on average.

  1. Illinois: $241,000 – 2 NCAA appearances
  2. Ohio State: $221,000 – 5 NCAA appearances
  3. Indiana: $214,000 – 2 NCAA appearances
  4. Nebraska: $213,000 – 1 NCAA appearance
  5. Michigan: $179,000 – 4 NCAA appearances
  6. Minnesota: $172,000 – 2 NCAA appearances
  7. Iowa: $147,000 – 1 NCAA appearance
  8. Purdue: $140,000 – 3 NCAA appearances
  9. Michigan State: $130,000 – 5 NCAA appearances
  10. Wisconsin: $60,000 – 5 NCAA appearances

Northwestern and Penn State weren't included in the study and Rutgers and Maryland weren't yet part of the Big Ten.

Pitino's reported jet travel-only spending of $325,000 over three years averages out to $108,333 a year.

BringMeTheNews has reached out to the University of Minnesota Athletics Department for comment.

Basketball under a microscope

This audit is the latest public scar for Pitino's basketball program.

In just over the past year, six Gophers basketball players have been suspended or kicked off the team for violations. The latest player in trouble is Reggie Lynch, who was released from Hennepin County Jail on Tuesday after being arrested for accusations of sexual assault.

Lynch's case is under investigation and he has not been charged with a crime. He's currently suspended from all basketball activities until the investigation is finished.

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