Kentucky spent 300k on basketball pep rally, but only 336k on football recruiting

Friday night was Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness, the first practice of basketball season. Over 20,000 fans showed up for the event which serves as a large pep rally for basketball season. UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart called the evening a “special treat” for fans. John Calipari said about Big Blue Madness:

“This is about celebrating the start of the season, but we’re still going to celebrate the 2012 national championship. We’re here to celebrate the tradition of this program.”

“I will say this: if we were in a dance contest, we’re winning.”

Obviously, Kentucky has seen a lot more success with basketball than their football program. But college football is what brings in the major revenue, even at Kentucky.

Kentucky’s 2011-2012 Revenues

Profits in 2011-2012

These revenue numbers are according to ESPN’s Kristi Dosh report in her recent reports (here and here). Kentucky football gives three times more profit back to the school than their basketball program. Meanwhile, here were the football recruiting budgets in the SEC for the 2011 fiscal year:

Tennessee: $1.4M
Alabama: $980K
Auburn: $950K
Arkansas: $666K
Georgia: $623K
Florida: $602K
Mississippi: $495K
Missouri: $363K
Kentucky: $336K
LSU: $302K
Mississippi State: $306K
South Carolina: $248K
Texas A&M: $240K

As you can see, the football recruiting budgets do not directly correlate to wins, but teams like Texas A&M and LSU don’t have to travel or pay much to get to recruits since they have a lot of local talent. Kentucky does not have a single five-star recruit playing high school in the state, and there are only 3 four-star recruits in Kentucky.

Exact costs for Big Blue Madness were not released, but Kentucky spends a very high amount each year on just the lighting alone. According to this article, here is the estimated cost:

UK spent between $250,000 to $300,000 on the show, Senior Associate Athletic Director Jason Schlafer said. That’s about what it cost to stage Madness in each of Calipari’s previous three seasons as coach.

The event went well. The arena went dark at 7:30pm and the team entered, followed by T-shirt giveaways, 3-point shooting contests and a cheerleader performance that built anticipation for the Wildcats’ first practice. John Calipari and his players delivered, whipping up the crowd by entering to smoke machines and hip-hip music, with Goodwin emerging as the team’s best dancer so far. Here are some video highlights from the event:

Here’s what Joker Phillips said during SEC Media Days about the relationship of football and basketball at Kentucky with their National Championship season:

“Everybody has things they want to sell in their program. I’m selling our basketball program, okay? I would be crazy to try to fight that. I’m trying to sell our basketball program. I think it was unbelievable advertising of our logo. Every time our basketball team went to the next round, playing in the Final Four. How many times did kids see the UK interlocking brand out there? I think that’s huge. We want to hitch our wagon to our basketball program.”


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