One of the fun things to track every July is John Calipari's whereabouts. The Kentucky coach gets around on the recruiting trail as if he's got the portability Iron Man. In many ways, I guess he does.
I remember last year, it truly crystallized and became comical for me all at once, understanding just how speedily Calipari gets his work done. I remember checking Twitter on my phone after a few hours away from the time-sucking, Pavlovian application, and seeing a tweet that Calipari was in Philadelphia for an AAU event. I'd not checked Twitter in about three hours, so said tweet was about that old, buried in my timeline.
I pick my head up and continue watching whatever AAU game was going on in front of me.
A few minutes later, in walks Calipari at the Riverview Park Activities Center.
Which is located in North Augusta, S.C. Not Philly.
In seemingly an instant, Calipari teleported from one part of the country to the other. All made possible because he's living large on that private jet life.
How large? Kyle Tucker, Kentucky beat writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal, compiled all of Calipari's flights on private jets for the 2013-14 fiscal year. They are numerous -- and very expensive. When combined with UK football coach Mark Stoops' voyages, the two tallied approximately $450,000 worth of fly time on private planes.
And as Tucker's story notes, that big figure does not include the times Cal or Stoops might've gotten to ride in a booster's private plane free of charge. Other costs, like rental cars and commercial flights for assistant coaches, weren't factored in as well. All told, Kentucky basketball and football easily cracked a half-million bones on recruiting alone last year.
Which is more -- sometimes two or three times over -- than some of UK's opponents' overall athletic budgets.
"Calipari took $97,618.33 worth of chartered flights last July and had $102,590.23 in jet trips last September," per the report. "During one three-day period, he flew from Lexington to Washington, D.C., to Milwaukee, Wis., back to D.C. to Dallas to Las Vegas and back to Lexington. Last July 12-13, Calipari needed to bounce between two major AAU basketball events, hitting the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., then the Reebok Classic Breakout in Philadelphia and back to the Peach Jam."
Tucker's reporting brought up $342,713.91 total in private-jet costs for Calipari between last summer and this past April. What I found surprising was Kentucky not owning its own plane. Some of these schools have purchased a jet specifically for these purposes. Private plane access makes recruiting so much easier.
But some schools and coaches have to live that uneasy life: picking and choosing when to use/rent out the private jet, and when to slum it on a commercial flight like the rest of us.
Kidding aside, I've spoken with plenty of coaches who either rent out or use a team plane every July. It makes a big-time impact -- both in lifestyle and in practical terms. When a coach can bounce from event to event and not have to worry about re-booking flights or missing a takeoff because a game is running late, it ensures they can watch more recruits more often.
That can significantly affect a coach's chances at landing a coveted recruit. Look at what Kentucky's brought in since Calipari got there. Obviously they'd say it's been worth the bill.
If you're curious on the cost, the Courier-Journal's story has the rundown on Calipari's globe-trotting.
July 9, 2013 — Louisville to Lexington to Indianapolis to Lexington ($5,160.09)
July 10-11, 2013 — Lexington to Philadelphia, Pa., to Augusta, Ga., to Louisville ($13,130.50)
July 12-13, 2013 — Lexington to Augusta, Ga., to Philadelphia, Pa., to Augusta, Ga., to Lexington ($8,603.63)*
July 16, 2013 — Jeffersonville, Ind., to Lexington to Washington, D.C., to Jeffersonville, Ind. ($9,179.96)
July 18-21, 2013 — Lexington to Dulles, Va., to Milwaukee, Wisc., to Dulles, Va., to Dallas, Texas, to Las Vegas to Lexington ($20,568.07)*
July 24-26, 2013 — Nicholasville, Ky., to Las Vegas to Orlando, Fla., to Nicholasville, Ind. ($29,035.78)
July 28, 2013 — Orlando, Fla., to Lexington ($11,940.30)
Sept. 10-12, 2013 — Louisville to Lexington to Minneapolis, Minn., to Fayetteville, Ark., to Houston, Texas, to Louisville ($24,127.20)
Sept. 16, 2013 — Indianapolis to Ft. Wayne, Ind., to Frankfort, Ky. ($10,206.07)
Sept. 18, 2013 — Lexington to Jackson, Miss., to Pascagoula, Miss., to Lexington ($11,149.10)
Sept. 19, 2013 — Lexington to Memphis, Tenn., to Lexington ($7,386.20)
Sept. 24, 2013 — Nicholasville, Ky., to Oakland, Calif., to Santa Ana, Calif., to Nicholasville, Ky. ($37,021.06)
Sept. 27-28, 2013 — Lexington to Teterboro, N.J., to Lexington ($12,700.60)
Oct. 6, 2013 — Lexington to Cleveland, Ohio, to Lexington ($3,442.37)
Oct. 11, 2013 — Lexington to Milwaukee, Wisc., to Middletown, Ohio, to Lexington ($11,684)
Oct. 27, 2013 — Lexington to Houston, Texas, to Lexington ($5,200.93)*
Nov. 5, 2013 — Lexington to Jackson, Miss., to Lexington ($10,389.60)
Dec. 7, 2013 — Lexington to Paducah, Ky., to Lexington ($3,996.40)
Dec. 20, 2013 — Lexington to Dayton, Ohio, to Lexington ($1,398.62)*
Dec. 22, 2013 — Lexington to Teterboro, N.J., to Lexington ($11,589.45)
Jan. 3, 2014 — Lexington to Pittsburgh, Pa., to Lexington ($3,432.39)*
Jan. 11, 2014 — Lexington to Nashville, Tenn., to Paducah, Ky., to Lexington ($3,696.05)*
Jan. 18, 2014 — Lexington to Dayton, Ohio, to Lexington ($7,462.14)
Jan. 20, 2014 — Lexington to Springfield, Mass., to Lexington ($11,366.60)
Jan. 22, 2014 — Lexington to Teterboro, N.J., to Lexington ($5,139.26)
Feb. 19, 2014 — Lexington to Memphis, Tenn., to Lexington ($8,755.75)
April 22, 2014 — Lexington to Greensboro, N.C., to Owensboro, Ky. ($3,221.22)*
April 23, 2014 — Lexington to St. Louis, Mo., to Teterboro, N.J., to Lexington ($8,065.14)
April 24-26, 2014 — Lexington to Sacramento, Calif., to Dallas, Texas, to Nicholasville, Ky. ($43,665.43)
* Indicates former assistant coach Orlando Antigua, current assistant coach Kenny Payne or director of basketball operations Chris Woolard. on Jan. 11, 2014, both Antigua and Payne accompanied Calipari for all or part of the trip where noted in flight logs (some were more specific than others).
Want an interactive experience for Cal's cruising? I highly recommend clicking and seeing how all those trips played out.