A tale of Kentucky athletics and two light shows

Update: ESPN's numbers are in dispute. The 2011 recruiting figure has to do with UK's travel budget for recruiting. It doesn't include campus visits, etc.

The UK football natives are restless this morning, and not just over last night's woeful performance in that (thankfully) weather-shortened 49-7 loss at Arkansas. Turns out Kentucky athletics featured two light shows over the weekend, and the football faithful believe they shed some light on how the two top sports are treated.

As our own Jerry Tipton reported, Kentucky said it spent between $250,000 and $300,000 on the laser light show it used at Rupp Arena for basketball's Big Blue Madness on Friday.

As Bleed Blue Kentucky points out, that was nearly UK's entire football recruiting budget for 2011, as reported by ESPN.

According to ESPN's numbers, Kentucky spent $336,035 on recruiting in 2011, which ranked 8th of the SEC's 11 schools at the time. As a private school, Vanderbilt does not have to make its athletic budget available to the public.

To be fair, the nearly $300,000 UK spent on its basketball light show is almost more than LSU, Mississippi State and South Carolina each budgeted for recruiting in 2011. LSU spent $302,882. Mississippi State spent $306,469. And South Carolina spent $248,333.

Of course, LSU and South Carolina are both currently ranked in the Top 10. And Mississippi State is currently undefeated.

According to ESPN, UK budgeted $279,006 for football recruiting in 2010.

The numbers don't tell all the story, of course. UK AD Mitch Barnhart has continually argued that the school's accounting procedures are different than other schools, which skews the numbers. Also, is the recruiting money figure what was requested by head coach Joker Phillips and his staff? Did they ask for more and were turned down?

I do go back to the UK Basketball Alumni Game that was held on the same afternoon of a UK football game that night. It drew 10,000 and received plenty of publicity. If you don't think other SEC schools will use that against Kentucky in recruiting, then you don't know how this cuthroat league works.


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