Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess
Recruiting expense reports (listed by coach)
- Lane Kiffin - Head coach
- Ed Orgeron - Assistant Head Coach, Recruiting Coordinator
- Monte Kiffin - Defensive Coordinator
- Jim Chaney - Offensive Coordinator
- James Cregg - Tight ends/Tackles Coach
- Willi Mack Garza - Defensive backs Coach
- Eddi Gran - Running backs/Special teams Coach
- David Reaves - Quarterbacks Coach
- Lance Thompson - Linebackers Coach
- Frank Wilson - Wide receivers Coach
The emphasis of Tennessee's new coaching staff on recruiting has come with a price tag.
UT's 2009 signing class has cost $1,099,513.16 so far, according to records obtained by the News Sentinel.
Recruiting expenses are most often associated with coaches' travel and hosting official visitors. With 22 commitments, UT spent almost $50,000 per signee.
"The new staff had to play some catchup and will have a lot of expenses," said Tyler Johnson, UT's associate athletic director for business and internal affairs, in an e-mail to the News Sentinel.
The spending has brought early returns for UT. The staff under first-year UT coach Lane Kiffin was widely praised for assembling a class ranked in the top 10 nationally. Kiffin had a late start, taking over Dec. 1 after coach Phillip Fulmer was fired in November and then painstakingly putting together an all-star staff. Schools in such transitions often struggle to assemble a respectable recruiting class.
Under Kiffin's direction, UT spent $835,908.47 from Dec. 1 to National Signing Day on Feb. 4.
UT spent $263,604.69 under Fulmer before he was fired in early November. Subsequently, he and his staff were told they would not be allowed to travel nor bring in prospects for official visits, essentially putting spending on hold until Kiffin was hired.
UT's recruiting expenditures for the 2008-09 fiscal year are incomplete pending the tabulation of travel costs for the spring evaluation period.
However, even the expenses tabulated thus far show UT has spent more this fiscal year than it spent in 2007-08 ($1,081,249.72) and almost as much as it spent in 2006-07 ($1,311,893.99).
UT signed 32 prospects in its 2007 class, which was considered one of the top five classes in the country.
With limited scholarships available in 2008, UT signed 18 prospects in what was widely considered the worst signing class in Fulmer's 17-year tenure.
The spring evaluation period is expected to be a major expense. As per NCAA rules, schools can have seven coaches on the road recruiting for four weeks.
Once those expenses are tabulated, UT's tally could rise dramatically.
According to Johnson, Kiffin will have tighter restraints in the future, beginning in 2009-10.
"Here is your recruiting budget dollar amount," Johnson said, outlining how Kiffin will be expected to handle expenses. "Make your spending work within this number."
In other words, work within a budget.
"If that means their staff chooses to stay in cheaper hotels and fly more on commercial flights (instead of using UT's private planes) to allow for allocations of funds to be used elsewhere in the recruiting process, then that is up to them," Johnson said.
Travel costs for recruiting trips in December and January can be expensive as coaches often have to book trips with little notice to adapt to the constantly changing demands of recruiting.
For instance, receipts for travel expenses over one week in January for offensive coordinator Jim Chaney cost UT $6,414.30, much of which went to cover airfare costs. Chaney was the lead recruiter in UT's pursuit of tailback Bryce Brown from Wichita, Kan., who Rivals.com rated as the best prospect in the country. Brown signed with UT on March 16.
UT's recruiting spending is part of its overall $87.5-million athletic department budget.
UT has to travel more than many of their competitors who have the luxury of relying more on in-state talent.
Of UT's 22 signees for the 2009 class, 16 are from outside Tennessee's borders.
In producing records of recruiting expenditures, UT provided the News Sentinel with documents that recorded spending on travel by each individual coach, such as airfare, car rentals, lodging and meals. However, pertinent information on destinations and prospects' names had been redacted in order to conceal the identities of recruits.
UT cited the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as reason why it couldn't provide complete expense reports.
Johnson said the reports were redacted "out of respects and privacy for the prospects and their families."
UT is compiling more information on recruiting expenses for the News Sentinel including its final total for the 2008-09 fiscal year, which ends on June 30.