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John Calipari spent an insane amount on recruiting flights

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Kentucky head coach John Calipari is racking up some serious frequent flyer miles (©GettyImages)
Kentucky head coach John Calipari is racking up some serious frequent flyer miles (©GettyImages).

Kentucky's John Calipari has long been known as college basketball's best recruiter.

Really, no one else is even close. So it's no surprise that Calipari spends a lot of time recruiting on the road.

What is eye-popping, however, his exactly how much money he (and football coach Mark Stoops, assuredly to a lesser degree) have racked up while flying chartered flights with the school's private jets.

The two combined for $450,000 worth of chartered flights in the 2013-14 fiscal year, according to flight records obtained by the Louisville Courier-Journal

In one stretch highlighted by the Courier-Journal in a handy interactive map, Calipari jetted between nine states and Kentucky in three weeks for recruiting purposes. Those states weren't close to each other either, including Indiana, New York, South Carolina, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Michigan, Florida, Dallas and Nevada.

College basketball's best recruiter

Calipari has certainly made good use of his frequent flyer miles.

His first season as the Wildcats coach saw him bring in a team that featured John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe. That 2009-10 lineup became the first team in history to have five players selected in the NBA Draft's first round.

Then he brought in his second top-ranked recruiting class (remember Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb)?

That team brought the Wildcats to the Final Four for the first time since 1998, truly a time in the desert of biblical proportions for the blue-blood faithful.

After that, his third recruiting class included Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, both now starring for NBA teams. 

Of course, that 2011-12 squad won Calipari his first national championship, after a tight 67-59 victory over the Kansas Jayhawks.

Calipari was recently ranked No. 2 in ESPN's college basketball coach rankings, as much as for his recruiting prowess as his ability to coach. 

Since arriving in Lexington five seasons ago, Calipari has had 19 players drafted by the NBA.

Of that group, 15 were drafted in the first round.

A 'necessity'

The almost half a million dollars spent on chasing recruits across the country comes out of the athletic department's football and basketball recruiting budgets. 

It doesn't include commercial flights - often used by assistant coaches - or hotels, or car rentals, which add up to thousands of more dollars.

DeWayne Peevy, Kentucky's deputy athletic director, told the Courier-Journal that Calipari has the unique position of having to recruit nationally, thanks to the program's clout in all parts of the nation.

"[The private jet is] really more out of necessity for us than it is a perk," Peevy said.

Calipari's travels made up $342,713.91, meaning he used it far more than his football counterpart. That makes sense though, because while Kentucky basketball recruits nationally, most of the school's football players come from within a reasonable driving distance.

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