College sports coaches often cite the need for glitzy facilities to help them procure the best athletes. It sure helps if there are no dark, dank, smelly locker-rooms and playing surfaces aren’t craggy, grubby vacant lots when coaches squire kids around.
Kansas football coach Mark Mangino just inaugurated a new stadium-oriented empire and believes a new arena might be even more helpful for bringing in the gridiron sheaves. Basketball coach Bill Self has the vibrant Phog Allen shrine to display his kids’ wares. His latest contract arranges for a lot more attractive venues to trumpet the merits of being a Jayhawk.
Basketball people get caught up on palaces and throne rooms as big reasons why blue-chippers might harness their futures to Bill Self and Co. Don’t overlook a much bigger factor: KU’s current 11-man NBA roster has combined annual salaries of some $59 million. This doesn’t include the million-a-year Sasha Kaun is getting with a Russian pro team, so push it past $60 million.
National and conference titles, All-America status, constant adoration by school zealots, a great education, good job . . . all that is particularly attractive at national tournament times such as this. Recruits have to be impressed and these are key sales points, especially for those with no ability to reap big loot in the National Basketball Association.
College kids see little of the zillions they help create for the NCAA and its minions, and many understandably resent not receiving stimulus and bonus packages. But street-wise prospects can note how well former Jayhawks have done and decide that maybe the storied KU program with assistants like Danny Manning and Joe Dooley can route them to the same destination.
Quick rundown on the guys’ KU years, their current teams and what they are being paid for the current NBA season:
Paul Pierce, 1996-98, Boston Celtics, $18,077,903.
Raef LaFrentz, 1995-98, Portland Trail Blazers, $12,722,500.
Kirk Hinrich, 2000-2003, Chicago Bulls, $10,000,000.
Drew Gooden, 2000-02, San Antonio Spurs, $7,151,183.
Nick Collison, 2000-03, Oklahoma City Thunder, $6,250,000.
Julian Wright, 2006-07, New Orleans Hornets, $1,869,600.
Brandon Rush, Indiana Pacers, 2006-08, $1,799,160.
Jacque Vaughn, 1994-97, San Antonio Spurs, $1,262,275.
Darrell Arthur, 2007-08, Memphis Grizzlies, $977,160.
Mario Chalmers, 2006-08, Miami Heat, $700,000.
Darnell Jackson, 2005-08, Cleveland Cavaliers, $442,114.
Think of the money Pierce, Hinrich, Gooden, Collison and LaFrentz should have been able to bank by now. The oft-injured LaFrentz has been with Dallas, Boston, Denver and now Portland and if he’s not rich, despite frequent inactivity, it’s his own fault.
Chalmers is clearly underpaid but won’t be for long. Let’s hope he, Arthur and Jackson break the million-dollar-plus level by next season.
One of the big sales points for KU recruiters these days has to be the success of its ex-players in the treasury department.
And always, there is the mind-boggling financial success that ex-Jayhawk Greg Ostertag (1992-95) enjoyed in the NBA — total salary for 11 seasons, $48,253,390, and that doesn’t include any kinds of endorsements.
How’s that for a starter?