Louisville’s Rick Pitino raises separate funds for charter jet use in recruiting


Elite recruiting in college basketball means that coaches of high-major programs usually need to be in multiple places in short order to see the best players in the country play. This is especially the case during the live evaluation weekends in the spring and summer when tournaments are going on all over the country and coaches have a limited window to evaluate (or babysit) their top targets.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is one of many head coaches that has access to charter jets to get places quickly in recruiting. In a story from the Courier-Journal‘s Jeff Greer, Pitino revealed that he sets aside a separate budget of $250,000 per year for use of the chartered jets. Pitino raises money through golf tournaments and other initiatives with a booster group called Friends of the Ville.

During the 2014 fiscal year (July 2013 to April 2014) the Courier-Journal reports that Pitino made 18 different recruiting trips that totaled $248,532. Pitino’s charter jet use complements the men’s basketball annual recruiting budget that is used for other recruiting costs like Pitino’s assistants taking trips or staying in hotels.

“I couldn’t do any of that recruiting if it wasn’t for that,” Pitino said to Greer about the charter jets. “I wanted to do it raising the money myself, so it never comes back that this other program doesn’t do it. I just made up my mind that I was going to raise a quarter of a million dollars (each year).”

The Courier-Journal piece goes more in-depth on where Pitino is going and how football coach Bobby Petrino is going with a similar plan for charter jet use.

But this number — and Pitino raising the money himself — is interesting because in a recent story in Bloomberg, they determined that the average annual cost of perks tied to airplane travel for executives is $272,180 per year. Airplane travel for CEOs increased 22 percent this year, according to the Bloomberg Pay Index.

Seeing that Pitino’s yearly charter jet travel comes close to that average amount, it means major college basketball coaches are on-par with many high-ranking CEOs when it comes to a private charter jet budget.