As conference re-alignment talks have begun to heat up for a third straight year it is quite obvious that football is the main variable in the numerous conference affiliation equations. This realization has been a somewhat humbling experience for not only some basketball centric schools but their fanbases as well.
This does not mean though that crazy amounts of money are not also being spent on basketball coaches and programs across the country. For a perfect example of how much money is still not only being spent on but generally involved with a "secondary" sport like basketball, fans only have to look towards the basketball hotbed that is the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
Before getting into the numbers a quick recap of the basketball program at Nebraska is in order for contextual purposes.
The University of Nebraska has not won a conference title in basketball since the 1949-1950 season and they have failed to make the NCAA Tournament since 1998, an event where they have never won a game in. Their last player to be selected in any round of the NBA draft was Venson Hamilton in 1999 and their last first rounder was the previous year with Tyronn Lue. This past season, their first in the Big Ten, the Cornhuskers tied for last place with Penn State with a conference record of 4-14 which led to the firing of head coach Doc Sadler.
In March of 2011 Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne gave Sadler a two year contract extension through the 2015-2016 season. At the time of the extension Sadler's record in Big 12 conference games was 30-50 although he had led the Cornhuskers to three NIT appearances.
Perhaps the most astounding aspect of the ill timed contract extension was the fact that it included a $75,000 bonus to Sadler if the Cornhuskers made the NIT Tournament. Yes you read that correctly the NIT not the NCAA Tournament.
At the time of Sadler's firing his annual salary as head coach was $900,000. As per terms of his buyout from being fired Sadler is being paid as much as $66,667 per month up to a total of $3.4 million overall.
As when any program fires a coach there is now the additional cost of going out and hiring a new one. Eventually Nebraska was able to lure Tim Miles away from Colorado State University. The terms of his contract show why Lincoln was an attractive destination for him.
To start off with Miles was given a seven year contract starting at a base salary of $1.4 million with a guaranteed minimum raise per year of $125,000.The length of the contract is the longest in Nebraska history since former Husker football coach Bill Callahan's six year deal in 2004. Husker fans obviously have to hope that Miles can fulfill his contract better than Callahan.
In addition to the base salary Miles contract also calls out for two vehicles for his own personal use as well as a country club membership of his choice and his wife's travel expenses to away games and conventions will be paid for by the athletic department. Nebraska also covered the $350,000 buyout to Colorado State for his contract which is standard practice.
The administration at Nebraska has also set aside a pool of $720,000 to be used by Miles to pay his three assistant coaches.
So if you are keeping score at home the total amount to be paid in the upcoming 2012-2013 school year strictly in base salary to Sadler, Miles and the new assistant coaches will equate too roughly $2.9 million overall. In the world of big time college basketball this figure is not fully overwhelming as Bill Self gets paid a reported three million dollars annually but Nebraska is not getting anywhere near the return on their investment as KU is.
The amount of money being spent by Nebraska on their basketball program is not limited strictly to just their coaching hiring and firing.
In an effort to try and show dedication to both their men's and women's basketball programs the university opened up in 2011 a state of the art $18.7 million training complex. The facility was fully paid for by donations and fundraising efforts with the major portion donated by Tom and Mary Hendricks who gave $10 million.
Combined with the new basketball training facility the Cornhuskers will also be playing in a new arena come September 2013. The funding of a new arena was approved by Lincoln voters in 2010 and the price tag of the new arena is estimated to be $179 million.
The arena will have seating for more than 15,000 people even though the Cornhuskers average attendance in 2011 was only 9,395 per the figures provided by the NCAA. The University of Nebraska has agreed to lease the arena for thirty years at a figure of $750,000 per year and both the men's and women's basketball teams will play all their regular season home games there.
Late in 2011, it was announced that Nebraska-based Pinnacle Bank had agreed to an 11.25 million, 25 year naming rights contract for the arena which averages $450,000 per year.
The business of college athletics looks like it will only continue to grow in the coming years with television contracts now reaching into the billions of dollars. If a perennial doormat basketball program like Nebraska can be throwing millions upon millions of dollars around on basketball it makes a person wonder exactly how much money can eventually be dumped into their prized football program.