In terms of recruiting expenses, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame put up a good fight when stacked against other programs’ spending. In 2010-11, Notre Dame spent a grand total $2,070,316.00 on recruiting. This amount was the third-highest in the NCAA, and the highest in the Big East, the conference in which Notre Dame is a member.
Seeing that Notre Dame spent $376,114.00 more than the next highest recruiting spender (Alabama) in the NCAA, leads one to wonder what exactly the $2,070,316.00 was spent on.
Tom Nevala is Notre Dame’s Senior Associate Athletics Director for Business Operations and Youth Programming. In his Business Operations role, he oversees all financial matters for Notre Dame’s athletic department. Nevala was willing to help provide insight into how Notre Dame’s large recruiting budget is spent.
When asked how the athletic department’s budget is structured in a given year, Nevala provided the following insight:
“There are two components to what a team believes their budget should be: What it has been and what is newly required going forward. We participate in the university’s budget process. We have to seek approval for our budget. We have a net revenue target that we have to meet for the campus. Our budget only grows if we get approval to grow and we can meet the revenue target. Teams put forth their budget requests, and if we can meet those two things, we grant their budget accordingly,” explained Nevala.
Nevala’s explanation pointed to a significant factor for Notre Dame’s extensive recruiting budget: the fact that Notre Dame athletics drives a significant portion of the university’s revenue.
According to Nevala, the Notre Dame athletics department is committed to providing $20 million worth of revenue to the university. This $20 million is additional to the amount of money the athletics department spends to fund all of the department’s scholarships. The $20 million worth of revenue provided by the athletics department to the university is used by the university to fund other students’ financial aid and to cover operating expenses. As for where the athletics department obtains the revenue from, Nevala explained that, “The revenue mainly comes from football ticket sales. We also have the benefit of a strong broadcasting relationship and fundraising,” said Nevala.
The athletics department’s ability to turn over $20 million worth of revenue to the university as a result of its football team’s success is arguably a reason why nearly one-half of Notre Dame’s entire recruiting budget is spent by the football team.
In 2010-11, Notre Dame’s $2,070,316.00 recruiting budget was spent as follows:
|Team||Recruiting Expenses||Percentage of Total Recruiting Expenses|
|All Other Men’s Teams||$300,328.00||14.5%|
|All Other Women’s Teams||$259,687.00||12.5%|
The link below is a pie chart depicting just how much of Notre Dame’s recruiting budget is spent by particular teams:
While the fact that 48.7 percent of Notre Dame’s entire recruiting budget was spent by the football team may seem outrageous to some, several factors must be taken into consideration. First, unlike sports like basketball where only a handful of student-athletes are recruited during a given year, a school can be recruiting upwards of fifty or more football players in a given recruiting year. Nevala also noted that travel expenses are higher depending upon when a recruit visits Notre Dame. For instance, hotel prices in South Bend, Indiana, where Notre Dame is located, skyrocket when the Fighting Irish are playing a home football game. If a football recruit is visiting for a game, this factor increases the cost of recruiting him.
While Nevala confirmed that the vast majority of recruiting expenses incurred by every Notre Dame team are travel related, he also explained that it’s possible that Notre Dame’s recruiting expenses appear significantly higher than other those of other schools, because Notre Dame is comprehensive in how it defines recruiting expenses. According to Nevala, Notre Dame tries “to capture everything recruiting related” when reporting its figures to the Department of Education. Examples he used included coach’s cellular telephone bills, subscriptions to recruiting newsletters, meals, and recruiting brochures.
Furthermore, Nevala indicated that Notre Dame’s recruiting expenses may be higher than other schools’ because of the athletics department’s focus upon recruiting the best talent nationally. “We’re in a pretty unique situation here. While we’re a Big East conference member, across the board, all of our sports are competing nationally. That puts a different approach into recruiting nationally. We also fund all of our sports’ scholarships, so that tends to lead to a little bit more national recruiting,” noted Nevala.
With its ability to generate a significant amount of revenue for the university, historical recognition as an athletics powerhouse and its desire to bring the best talent found nationwide to South Bend, one thing is for sure: Notre Dame’s recruiting expenses will continue to lead the NCAA.