It seemed impossible that University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari could be in so many places in so little time. During a frenzied stretch last week, Calipari was in Los Angeles watching incoming freshman Karl-Anthony Towns be honored at the ESPY Awards one day, then in Augusta, Ga., to see a new crop of recruits the next. When NBA superstar LeBron James showed up in Lexington to watch his son play in a basketball tournament, Calipari suddenly appeared there, too — but only for a couple of hours. He was back evaluating recruits at Peach Jam in Georgia the same night. How does he do it? Apparently the "gold standard" at Kentucky that Calipari often talks about includes all but unfettered access to private jets. According to flight records obtained by The Courier-Journal, Calipari and football coach Mark Stoops combined to take $450,000 worth of chartered flights just for recruiting purposes during the 2013-14 fiscal year. That doesn't include their occasional commercial flights, boosters offering free use of jets in a pinch, hotels, car rentals or the almost exclusively commercial travel for their assistant coaches, who spent untold hours on the less-glamorous side of recruiting. The Cats' head coaches private-jet-setting is "really more out of necessity for us than it is a perk," said deputy athletic director DeWayne Peevy, who noted that Calipari juggles recruiting nationally, which most programs cannot do, and being on campus to work with his current team. "Coaching at Kentucky allows certain opportunities, one of which is to be able to coordinate our busy recruiting schedule and team practices," said Calipari, who was once again on the road recruiting this week, through a UK spokesman. "Because of access to private planes, I am able to get out and see the kids I need to see but make it back in time to be with my team." The jet money comes out of the football and basketball programs' recruiting budgets, although Calipari's has to "maintain some flexibility," given how wide a net he can cast in a given year. And he gets what he needs.
Jet-setting UK coaches round up recruits
Louisville Courier-Journal | Jul 29