Think that movie ticket for "The Hangover" is expensive? Try being a college basketball coach.
They spend most of July in the gym, watching recruits at various camps and tournaments. If they feel like paying up to $600, that is.
This great read from the N.Y. Times' Pete Thamel illuminates the aggravating costs of summer recruiting. Forget travel and food. Some coaches have to pay $350 simply to see players in a single game at a tournament, or even more if they want extra scouting information. You know, really top-end stuff like players' names and where they go to school.
If it sounds nuts, that's because it is.
The coaches who spoke to Thamel – notably Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings, who was sounded so mad I'm surprised he could drive home – were either exasperated or outraged, depending on which event they attended.
After an assistant coach paid $250 for an information packet and entry fee, Michigan State's Tom Izzo refused to pay $100 for admission to the Summer Jam in Milwaukee.
Yale coach James Jones decided against the $600 recruiting service that one South Carolina organizer was offering. He opted for the $350 admission instead and labeled it "extortion."
Louisville assistant Steve Masiello was indignant at the one packet's cost – because it had bubkis. "I refuse to pay $250 for a blank piece of paper," he told Thamel.
|You want how much for a roster?
But Stallings was the centerpiece of the story. He paid $10 for admission to the River City Showdown in Memphis, yet when he found out other coaches in attendance had to pay $295 for a packet of rosters and info that also was an admission fee, Stallings got up and made the three-hour trip back home.
Some don't want to offend the tournament organizers, who have the ears of the players the coaches are trying to recruit – which is the problem, Stallings said.
"That's exactly what's wrong with our business," Stallings said. "There's a mentality where coaches want to cover themselves and not get out there and say what's right and call out the people that are wrong.
"That's precisely why things are the way they are. That's why we have culture issues in our game. It's a darn shame. The people who could have influence and do have a voice, they choose not to use it because it doesn't help them. They don't want anything unsettling their smooth little boat ride."
Tournament organizers defended their methods, quoting various costs involved, like renting gym space and food. But most apparently prefer a cash payment. Yeesh.
How much for a movie ticket again?
UPDATE: Thamel followed up his story with a report that Kevin Weiberg, the chief executive of the newly formed IHoops, said his organization would examine the issue. No word on when that'll be.