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Penn State Football: A Decade of Recruiting Spending

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Penn State football spent $1.48 million on recruiting during the 2021-22 fiscal year, according to the athletic department’s recently released annual fiscal report. Recruiting expenses are defined in the report as: transportation, lodging and meals for prospective student- athletes and institutional personnel on official and unofficial visits, telephone call charges, postage, the value of use of the institution’s own vehicles or airplanes and in-kind value of loaned or contributed transportation.

This figure does not include recruiting support staff salary and compensation. Penn State football overall spent $5.8 million on support staff across all areas during the most recent fiscal year.

The $1.48 million is the most Penn State has spent on recruiting since the 2018-19 fiscal year. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and significantly limited travel and in-person contact saw Penn State spend just $651,388 on recruiting efforts over the 2020-21 fiscal cycle.

While there have been ups and downs on an annual basis, Penn State has seen a steady increased investment in the recruiting area since the hiring of James Franklin during the 2013-14 fiscal year. A fiscal year ends in June while recruiting is not a set calendar so making a one-to-one comparison to cost and recruiting results is a bit tricky to do. Nevertheless Penn Sate has never had a class ranked worse than No. 20 by the 247 Network since the 2015 signing class which generally coincides with a gradual increase in recruiting spending.

Comparing Penn State to peer institutions the Nittany Lions generally fall inside the Top 10 of recruiting spending across the nation. LSU, Alabama, Tennessee and Clemson lead the way with budgets in the $2-3 million range while the remainder of the Top 10 falls within negligible distance of each other. Penn State’s $1.52 million spent during the 2018-19 fiscal year was eighth-best in the nation.

Penn State football at-large brought in just north $105 million in revenue during the 2021-22 fiscal year while logging roughly $57.6 million in expenses.

“This is no knock on anybody, but I do think for the first time from the Board [of Trustees] to the President, to the AD, to the head football coach, we have a chance to have an alignment for really the first time,” Penn State coach James Franklin said on his radio show in October. “This is extremely competitive and it is extremely competitive year-round. And the more wins that we can get in the offseason, the better chance we’re going to be able to do it on Saturdays. Because the margin of error is so small.