The Texas Longhorns spared no expense in their pursuit of No. 1 overall recruit Arch Manning this summer.
During Manning's official recruitment visit to Austin in June, the university spent close to $280,000, according to The Athletic, which obtained receipts and expense invoices with open records requests. Texas rolled out the red carpet for Manning and eight other recruits that included airfare, 5-star hotels, food, desserts, entertainment and an open bar for parents.
Manning, the nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning, verbally committed soon after the visit.
Now, this may seem like a lot of money on its surface, but the university is allowed to provide lodging, meals and entertainment for up to four family members per recruit. Nine recruits multiplied by four family members each equals 36 extra guests to host after the nine players. That's before including school coaches and staff as well. The tab will run up quickly for any school with that many guests.
And it's not like universities don't have the money, either. Alabama and Clemson gave head coaches Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney more than $11 million per season, while Georgia head coach Kirby Smart makes more than $10 million per season. Not to mention Texas gave head coach Steve Sarkisian a six-year, $34.2 million in 2021 as well as $21 million in contracts for his staff.
Manning's commitment also brings an almost incalculable value to Texas. He's their biggest quarterback recruit since Vince Young in 2002 and will likely be on the roster when Texas joins the SEC. Manning should also be in line for huge name, image and likeness deals considering the following the Longhorns have and the lack of professional teams in the area.
How Texas spent its money
The Athletic broke down — as much as they could — where and how Texas spent all of the $280,000 that weekend. Here's a breakdown:
$21,000 on travel for the recruits and their families that included airfare for those out of state.
$46,696 on 34 hotel rooms at the Four Seasons Austin.
$17,319.71 on a lunch buffet on Friday.
$1,813.74 on custom cakes and other snacks in each recruit's hotel room.
$3,359.12 on speaker rentals for photo shoots at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center.
$29,129.40 on a dinner buffet at DKR that included flatware rental, drinks and an ice sculpture.
$11,880 on an open bar for the recruits' parents.
Another hotel buffet at 2 a.m.
$10,226 on a breakfast buffet on Saturday.
$9,497.72 on a trip to Top Golf for 75 total guests, including food and drinks.
$36,900 on dinner at III Forks Steakhouse that included 46 7-ounce lobsters, 34 bone-in ribeyes, 26 8-ounce filets, 17 New York strips, sea bass, chicken fried lobster, lobster mac and cheese, and more.
$2,357.50 for an hour-long boat cruise on Lady Bird Lake that included dessert from Amy’s Ice Cream.
$31,628.75 bar tab for the parents at the W Austin hotel.
What a weekend.
But was it worth it for Texas? Luring Manning was the ultimate prize, but three of the other eight recruits also committed to the Longhorns: Four-star defensive lineman Sydir Mitchell, four-star cornerback Malik Muhammad and four-star tight end and Manning high school teammate Will Randle. Four-star receiver Mikal Harrison-Pilot remains uncommitted, but will reportedly choose between Texas, Oklahoma, TCU, Houston and Cal.
The expenditure will be noteworthy because of the six figures, but it's unclear where this weekend ranks among what other schools have spent on other recruitment trips in the past. And when Manning joins the Longhorns in 2023, people will forget how much money Texas spent if he succeeds in Austin.