TV exposure gives the Southeastern Conference a big lift in recruiting, but my colleague Paul Fain found another way that SEC programs keep a leg up on the competition: owning their own airplanes.
SEC universities own at least 22 planes, many of which are used for sports, according to a Chronicle review of Federal Aviation Administration documents. Kentucky and LSU are the only institutions that don’t own one, choosing instead to lease or charter flights.
The coolest ride? Could be Alabama’s twin-engine Gulfstream G100, with seating for six and a maximum cruising speed of about 535 miles per hour. A used 1990 model like the Crimson Tide’s costs around $3-million.
Vanderbilt has gone the NetJets route, buying a stake in two midsize jets through the company, which essentially sells time shares. The upfront investment is less, and the interior isn’t as cramped as on many of the SEC’s planes. Vanderbilt’s two Cessna Citation Excel aircraft have cabins that are 18 feet long, for up to seven passengers, with a refreshment bar and lots of headroom.Return to Top