Gary Doran

The Cost of College Football Recruiting


With National Letter of Intent Day upon us, the ASU Devils Den decided that it was a good time to take a look at college football recruiting from a dollars and cents standpoint within the Pac-12 conference (Stanford and USC amounts were not available). We all have a pretty good idea of how much time the different coaching and administrative staffs put into recruiting, and now we can see the dollar amount each organization spends on those efforts.

First off, here is a the definition of what constitutes a recruiting expense straight from the NCAA:

Under NCAA rules, the definition of recruiting expenses includes: “Transportation, lodging, and meals for prospective student-athletes and institutional personnel on official and unofficial visits, telephone call charges, postage and such. Includes the value of use of institution’s own vehicles or airplanes as well as in-kind value of loaned or contributes transportation.”

Pac-12 Recruiting Expenditures


– 2012-2013 was the first full year of recruiting for Coach Todd Graham at ASU
– Based on the data in the table, it appears that ASU averaged $349,328 per year in recruiting expenses, while Arizona averaged $420,409
– Six other Pac-12 schools spent more in recruiting than ASU in the 2008-2009 year
– Over the five-year period 2008/2009 to 2012/2013, six teams also spent more on recruiting than ASU
– The recruiting budgets for the ten conference teams in the table increased an average of 11% per year

Five-Year Recruiting Expenditures on a “per unit” Basis


– During the five years analyzed, ASU hosted the most official visitors of the ten Pac-12 teams
– Only Washington State had a lower average cost per official visitor among the teams analyzed
– During the five-year period, Arizona had the second highest average cost per official visitor among the teams analyzed
– In CTG’s first full recruiting year in 2012-2013, ASU averaged spending $12,228 per official visitor, whereas it averaged $5,459 per visitor in the other four years analyzed
– In the years 2010 to 2014, ASU had the second most wins with 40 of the ten teams featured above, behind only Oregon with 60 wins

What the Numbers Mean

The expense of recruiting is going up dramatically. Half of the Pac-12 teams analyzed now have recruiting budgets over a half a million dollars per recruiting cycle. Just five years ago, only two teams fell into that category. To keep up with the increased spending, four of the ten teams analyzed increased their spending almost 100 percent or more in the five-year period analyzed.

Even though Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham really increased the recruiting budget in the 2012-2013 cycle, he still got a lot of bang for his buck, as six of the nine other conference teams averaged spending more per official visitor than ASU during the same recruiting year. Since the Wildcats had the fewest official visitors among the teams analyzed during the 2012-2013 cycle, they averaged almost twice as much in their cost per visitor than any of the other nine schools.

One caution should be taken in looking over the data, in that it deals solely with quantity, and thus excludes any type of recruit quality. For instance, ASU could substantially increase its recruiting expenditures and still have the same number of visitors and signees, however, the additional spending could actually have elevated the quality of visitors and signees.  The crux of the article is really the high cost of recruiting in the conference, and where ASU fits in compared to its peers.

About Gary Doran

Gary Doran

Gary graduated from ASU many years ago. After careers working in banking, finance and the financial administration of academic research funding, he is now interested in utilizing his passion for numbers towards two things he thoroughly loves; Arizona State University and college football. He is looking forward to finding the “stories” buried within the numbers on a football stat sheet. He has gone to ASU football games all the way back to the days of Frank Kush and the WAC. He has been married to an amazing ASU graduate for almost forty years, and they currently live in Ventura, CA. Although this may disqualify him from talking football, he and his wife enjoy the practice of yoga and dancing the Argentine Tango. Ole!

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