Report calculates fair market value of average college player at $178,000

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So why are the current stewards of college football working so hard to keep college football players from receiving fair compensation?  Because paying the players fair compensation would quickly become very expensive.

An analysis conducted by the National College Players Association and Drexel University determined that the fair market value of the average college football player from 2011 through 2015 would be $178,000.

Without scrutinizing the methods and assumptions and hard data on which the report is based, it’s impossible to assess its accuracy.  And since the NCPA strongly supports the efforts to pay college players, potential agendas and biases come into play.

But it’s a good framework for advancing the conversation.  The programs are making huge money, and the players are getting an “education” with an out-of-pocket cost to the schools far lower than the retail value of said “education.”

Even if the report doesn’t peg the fair market value for college football players with full accuracy, estimates are necessary because the current system prevents the open market from sorting it all out.  The current system prevents the market from sorting it out because the colleges fix the compensation by giving players scholarships and otherwise labeling them as amateurs who can’t be paid.

That’s why the antitrust laws should cause college presidents, coaches, and Athletic Directors to lose far more sleep than the threat of unionization.  If an antitrust lawsuit succeeds, the entire model necessarily will be blown up, and players will have to be given the opportunity to negotiate with one or more schools for the best possible deal they can get.

If it gets to that point, the NCAA may be begging for the adoption of a nationwide college players union, since that could be the only way to protect universities from themselves as they try to outbid each other for the best of the nation’s high-school prospects.

54 responses to “Report calculates fair market value of average college player at $178,000

  1. If you pay college football players, one of two things will happen. All of the minor sports that are supported by football and basketball will go away. Or tuition will go up for all the non athletes. Sounds awesome to me, go ahead and pay them and ruin college for everyone else.

  2. The point that seems to be forgotten in this discussion is that the state owned university players by law cannot be unionized and cannot go on strike due to the fact that they are/would be public employees. This unionization would only affect privately owned schools; which would put all those schools at a very distinct disadvantage financially.

  3. Wow. I wonder if that will change the minds of kids are thinking about going pro. The pro game is a grueling, and demanding career, eve if it does pay millions. ( unless you’re a RB)

  4. Just let them own and sell their likenesses, jersey, memorabilia, give paid interviews and appearances, etc. That will solve most of it. No need to pay them directly.

  5. The rules are ridiculous. If I offer financial support to the students at my university’s Physics Department in order to make it the best in the land, I’m a hero.

    But for some weird reason athletes, and athletes ALONE can’t accept gifts. And they have to sacrifice all of their privacy to prove they’re not accepting gifts. At public schools no less. Makes no sense.

  6. Yes, the NCAA will rush to offer a payscale for it’s players/employees that will come in far lower than their true market value. They will present something their beancounters know will ensure the most they can hope to secure, as a result, if the alternative is a series of negative court rulings.

    The good thing for the public is that, we get to see the humongous revenue generated by these amateur athletes and on the other side, the NCAA will keep this tied up in court, all the way to their friends on the Supreme Court get final say.

    It will be a PR nightmare for the NCAA, exposing a model only the 1% should get behind.

  7. Isn’t that pretty close to the value of a 4 Year College Education?

    Free tuition seems like pretty reasonable compensation to me.

    The only other thing players should be entitled to is Health Coverage “while engaged in team activities”. If you hurt yourself while playing/practicing/training for your sport then your injuries should be covered.

  8. April 15th is today so remember to pay your taxes.

    College players want to be paid well so does the government.

    Players be ready to pay up approx 30-35% of that in taxes.

    Oh and parent you will not beable to claim your college football playing son anymore because he makes too much money so more taxes for you too.

    Win for Taxes!

    Hmm thats why the government is all for players unionizing and getting paid more money in taxes.

  9. The players are getting a good deal with scholarships but they need to find a way to let them be paid something for spending money.

  10. Too bad as a union they will have to negotiate that. The fight for a CBA will be ugly. The NCAA will survive if they lock the players out for a year. The players will cave to a bad deal if locks out.

  11. $178,000 x 100 teams x 50 players =

    $890,000,000 per year in salaries.

    I think the math might be wrong. Almost $1 billion per year or $1 million per team (with only 50 players).

  12. Wow! ….I don’t see how they can possibly get the SEC players to take a pay cut!

  13. How much does ESPN pay to broadcast the Little League World series? – give those kids a cut. What did the local high school make last year selling jerseys and tickets to games? – give the kids a cut. This is getting ridiculous. Give them healthcare, a scholarship, a stipend and a guaranteed 4 years.

  14. And this is the principal reason I can’t get on board with paying athletes in addition to free tuition and room and board. What these athletes receive is something a Mom and Dad must save their entire lives for; akin to having to pay for a second mortgage.
    The cost of higher education these days is absurd.

    Wanna complain about the high costs of college? Look no further than current Mass. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who taught one class twice a week at Harvard for the sum of $375,000. Then had the mind-numbing nerve to complain about the 3%-4% interest being charged by banks.

  15. As soon as the NCAA finally recognizes that these are no longer “Student” Athletes, the NCAA will be screwed and will have to be disbanded.

    What “Student” is allowed to take 3-4 weeks off during finals time to travel to 3-4 different cities like they do for the March Madness Tourney?


  16. i’m pretty sure that would be a pay cut for most of the stars in college football. cam newton made way more than that while at auburn.

  17. Pay scholarship athletes 15-20K a year for 10 years following graduation.

    Which is basically what they’re making by not having to pay back student debt. Seems pretty fair to me.

  18. Nothing good will come from unionizing these players. Nothing. And I think that all of this discussion has overlooked smaller schools. Granted large schools profit unbelievable sums but how will small schools compete fairly for players with bigger programs when you assign ridiculous numbers like $180k/ player? Or is the focus only on the players where the schools make the most simce that is where the union would benefit the most finavially? Seriously thats the root of the whole issue right? Where can they get the biggest slice of the pie.

    Paying or unionizing is a lose lose proposition for everyone except the union stewards and agents making money off of other people’s hard work.

  19. It’s always funny to hear people so staunchly against doing something that should be done because they are making so much money on at little cost to them. Had they done the right thing years ago and paid the college aheletes what they would have given up may have been minor in the long run.

    But when those same people fight so hard resisting on giving even a little, then end up giving up even more than they bargained for and end up losing the entire pie when before all they would have had to give up is a slice they want to cry foul.

    People who get something for little to nothing never want to change that, but it always happens that when change is forced on them that they would have been better served giving up the slice of the pie in the beginning.

  20. How much do the fraternity members get paid for their participation in an extra curricular activity?

    I agree with the poster who suggested that college players own their name and their likeness. If an advertising agency wants to pay the player, that should be permitted and be between the player and the advertising agency.

  21. Do you think this will end with the football and basketball players. Remember there are scholarship athletes in dozens of other sports that will then clamor for their piece of the pie. And women’s sports will be required by law to get the same amount of money as the men’s games.

    Then throw in the acedemic scholarship recipients and how they enhance the schools acedemic standing.

    Finally, how much of that $178,000 is due to the reputation of the school? Is the value of a football player at Kutztown University the same as one at LSU? Of course not. How is that going to be worked out?

    The golden goose has its neck on the chopping block!

  22. No one is forcing them to go to college and play sports. The college offers them the opportunity to go there, play football, get an education, and have a defacto “audition” for pro teams. The players dont have to do any of that if they dont want to. It is the offer made by the college. The players are pefectly free to decline the offers.

  23. Is that per year or over a 4 year stretch. It would break to $44,500 a year if that’s the case which is on par with having a decent job. What universities would probably do next is cut scholarship down to offset the cost of college football teams or cut the number of players on the team down from the 100+ players they currently carry.

  24. And after Title IX balancing, each player gets about $4k per year after subsidizing other sports.

  25. Wow, it’s amazing how many like it that NCAA suits, college administrators, TV networks, console game manufacturers, jersey peddlers and coaches rake in all the revenue from a multi-billion dollar (tax free) industry.

    Multi-billion (with a “B”) and the people who generate it get zilch, while the 1% gets richer and that’s OK?

  26. Doesn’t college athletes also receive a stipene each month to pay for food and other needs? I beleive its in the ballpark of around a $1000 because NCAA won’t allow college athletes to make more than $2,000 a year while working.

  27. Multi-billion dollar industry? Colleges are not for profit. They use the money on facilities, minor sports programs, travel (how much does it cost to send a volleyball team to all of the conference games in these mega conferences–generated for football purposes?). The money goes to a good cause. Where would that money go if you gave it to players?

    These players have a choice. Either go to college on a scholarship and generate money for the school that promotes you or stay home and make You Tube videos of your high school career.

    Dang, people. We already have pro sports.

    Suggestion: Pay for insurance that protects them from injury in the event their careers are cut short, pay them work-study money for practice, community service, etc–not to exceed 10 hours per week, and I would allow 2 trips home and back per year. Not good enough for you? find another stage.

  28. No way the “average” college education is over 44 grand per year.

    I hope the colleges get this straightened out before my son gets to the college level.

    My cousin’s son is just getting there as a LB.

  29. Anybody who says to pay college players beyond a moderate stipend of like $500 per month simply doesn’t understand how college athletics work.

    First, most of them LOSE money. That is a fact. While it’s easy to see a school like Alabama with a full stadium and TV money and BCS bowl winning and think they are making tons of money, that’s not the whole story.

    The rest of the story is most schools lose money on every other sport, even basketball. Probably half of schools even lose money on football.

    University of Tennessee athletics is $200 Million in debt.

    Pay these kids real money beyond some pocket change and half the schools will drop football. And don’t forget that you can’t just pay football players. You’d have to pay the female field hockey players too.

    Paying athletes will lead to far fewer scholarships as schools will drop sports programs. Those 20 girls on a soccer scholarship will be out of luck, as will that wrestler or lacrosse player.

    But it’s all worth it so long as Billy Bob and DeAndre have enough money to finally finish that second sleeve of tats.

  30. Love when ppl read articles and make false assumptions. It’s 178k a year… Not over 4 years. In basketball it’s 378k a yr. Click the link in the story for more info. So all you claiming 178 divided by 4 years is a fair price (which is wrong) are you now going to comment about how unfair it is?

  31. I still dont understand WHY college players should be paid?? They arent professional athletes, they are in SCHOOL. If college players get paid to play, what would be the motivation for them to even get an education? Getting a scholarship should be enough compensation for these guys. If they are going to pay them, why not just do away with college football and create a professional minor football league?? That would take away the clutter of athletes who are only in college to play football and get paid for it and let the students who are in college for the education to focus on their academics. You know, what people actually go to college for…

    Whats next, we’re going to start paying high school athletes? Give me a break!

  32. Are the estimates still that the average college graduate earn $1,000,000 lifetime more than the average HS grad.

    If you tell me to give up $178,000/yr for 4 years and you will give me $1,000,000, I’m going to take it.

    Besides, I would like to see specifically what schools were used. All D1… BCS? And what does the study uses as the average value of a scholarship.

    I don’t have any issue with a stipend or considering it work study and paying players some. But since football and basketball generally fund all other sports, to not consider the full cost of the athletic department is alos an issue.

  33. It’s $178,000 per year.

    For those people talking about Average tuition over 4-years being worth around about $178,000 dollars, and suggesting that means “student athletes” are getting reasonable value, it actually means they are getting paid for 1-year out of 4.

    If we are going to say that $178,000 covers 4-years, then the student athlete is getting a quarter of what they are worth to the school.

  34. A lot of ignorant comments here. First, the estimate is an average of $178,000 per year, which is significantly more than the cost of the best private schools per year. Second, public employees can indeed unionize and strike. Third, unionization doesn’t necessarily mean that college athletes will be paid. I believe the main reason the players at Northwestern sought to unionize was because of the lack of sufficient health insurance to cover the costs when a player gets severely injured and is likely to never play sports again. The schools basically discard the player and do not pay anything toward the injured player’s staggering health cost. Of course, the weekend warriors who make comments on this site continue to salivate for more extreme violence and harder hitting, and could care less about the human beings who put their bodies in harm’s way for your entertainment.

  35. “If you tell me to give up $178,000/yr for 4 years and you will give me $1,000,000, I’m going to take it. “

    OK, how about you take the $178,000/yr, pay your college tuition out of it.

    I bet tuition would probably be deductable, so even after tax you’ve probably covered tuition, accomodation and a fair bit more.

    Then add your notional extra million on top of that.

    I’m pretty sure I’d have come out of college with savings, rather than debt if I was getting paid six-figures.

    Let’s swap playing football for $178,000/yr for another job paying $178,000/yr, are you going to tell that guy to give it up in exchange for free college tuition?

  36. I can get behind a lot of the NCAA rules being ridiculous, put paying college kids a salary makes no sense. Players should have the rights to their own likeness. If they want to sell awards, trophies, jerseys, etc that they earned from playing in college to make some extra money they should have the right to. I don’t see what is so wrong about a kid getting paid to do an autograph signing or a photo shoot either.

    As huge as the NCAA is, it still is a not for profit operation. These billions in revenues aren’t going into some fat cats pockets like the NFL, they are helping subsidize the collegiate education system. Start paying football players 100k a year, and expect 100’s of small programs to shutdown over night and tuition for the average student to go up exponentially.

    College football will eventually die off should this happen as everyone will get sick of watching the same 10 or so teams that have the money to buy up all the talent compete each year. There is no high school draft to help maintain parity. It’s unbalanced enough already.

  37. None of the posters here know anything about what it is like to be on scholarship to a big school.

    Do you think coach is cool with you taking education seriously? Especially if it affects making practices? Why do you think athletes take easy courses? Trust me, we aren’t all stupid.

    Scholarship athletes are there to win games and make the coach and AD money.

    No one seems a bit curious that so many players “graduate” but can barely read and write. Do you really think coaches care about an athletes grades beyond “staying eligible”?

    So everyone but the players make out all kinds, and that’s cool because they are playing under the guise of a “free education”, which because of their focus on athletics they can never really take advantage of.

    They finish up 4 years, don’t play pro, and have to look for a menial job while the Coaches and AD are multimillionaires off their play. Next player up please…

  38. At the pay scale put forth by the study, universities are going to replace scholarships with employment contracts lasting 4 years at the minimum. That should successfully end early entry players into any drafts for professional leagues.

    The kids better like their coach and surroundings, because the contracts will have standard non-compete clauses in them, so no transferring to a better team or closer to home when they get homesick, at least not to play sports.

    These kids will also have regular performance reviews, and if they don’t meet minimum standards set by the university (which may also include behavior and academics in addition to on the field performance), they will go down the standard corrective action path that ultimately leads to separation of employment for non-compliance. But with those non-compete clauses, they are no longer able to play college football until the original contract expires, and may also be legally prevented from joining the pro ranks as well for the duration of the contract.

    It will also be required that universities follow EEOC and ADA compliance in their athletic “hires,” so the number of participants in money making sports may deccline in favor of additional gendered and disability based positions elsewhere in the athletic department. Teams may even be required to become coeducational to maintain adherence to the law.

    There would also be a very good case to be made that other student employees in non-athletic roles should also be paid accordingly. Graduate assistants and work study students also drive revenue for the universities, so they will have to receive similar compensation packages.

    So in conclusion, if this study ever gains any traction, the athletic system as proposed may end up bankrupting the entire university system. Won’t it be awesome when only the privileged few who can pay their own way through college can afford schools that continue to field athletic programs? Or when the majority disavow themselves from scholarship athletcs altogether?

    Talk about killing the golden goose….

  39. OK… Have to chime in here about Health Coverage. EVERY student that enrolls in any College MUST have Health Coverage. If your parents have coverage, you must sign a Waiver otherwise you will automatically be charged for a Policy. The excuse that Athletes should Unionize to get Health Coverage is a nonsense argument! Obamacare in general totally sucks, but it does allow parents to include Students up to age 26 and the major majority of “lower income” Athletes currently get subsidized coverage as part of the Scholarship. Obamacare makes it totally free for most students anyway because of ‘(lack) income level. Simple solution, pay them, but charge them for everything including Usage Fees for the weightroom, fields and equipment. Heck, every student on campus already pays these fees anyway.

  40. If this is the path college athletics and lets be honest only football and basketball then give the athletes a choice.

    1. Take a scholarship go to class and be a student athlete.

    2. Get paid and you cannot go to class you’re a minor league athlete. Find your own place to live, pay for your own food, pay taxs, etc…

    Sign a contract and stick to your choice NO going back and no transfering.

  41. Apr 15, 2014 2:16 PM
    None of the posters here know anything about what it is like to be on scholarship to a big school.

    Do you think coach is cool with you taking education seriously? Especially if it affects making practices? Why do you think athletes take easy courses? Trust me, we aren’t all stupid.

    Scholarship athletes are there to win games and make the coach and AD money.

    No one seems a bit curious that so many players “graduate” but can barely read and write. Do you really think coaches care about an athletes grades beyond “staying eligible”?

    So everyone but the players make out all kinds, and that’s cool because they are playing under the guise of a “free education”, which because of their focus on athletics they can never really take advantage of.

    They finish up 4 years, don’t play pro, and have to look for a menial job while the Coaches and AD are multimillionaires off their play. Next player up please…
    What about guys like Andrew Luck, EJ Manuel etc who do play at a high level in a hard position to play like QB for a major school and manage to get their non-basket weaving type major degrees while playing in college ? How do they do it? I thing there ARE a lot more athletes who are capable of being great at football AND getting degrees. And believe me, as a non athlete who has a college degree from a respected university, there are very very very nominally intelligent NON athletes who don’t belong in college either even though they have both the time and money to be there and get a degree. But I digress. 🙂

    How about compromise as in having scholarship athletes do nothing but play and take a PT level load of coursework that they can manage while still doing well as an athlete and player (amount to be a minimum of a determined amount of hours). Then after they finish with their eligibility or decide to leave to try for the NFL, they get back however many years worth of credit hours to be allowed to return and finish their degree if they try and fail in the NFL or if they decide simply to return to school? (If they stay in the NFL the NFL offers tuition reimbursement still I believe so that option to return “free” would disappear since the NFL would provide it instead)In other words, for example say they stay in school for 3 years of college eligibility, and take half the credit hours they need for their degree so they can manage to commit as much as possible to playing while also being productive for the amount of classes they can manage. Then they have whatever is left towards their undergraduate degree of choice credit wise that they can finish whenever they choose, with a time limit say of 5 years and they won’t have to pay a dime for it. Something like this could work for both the athlete’s benefit and the university’s benefit.

  42. imo when you have a scholarship athlete, they should receive the 44k yr deposited on a school/university specific ATM card into 52 weekly deposits. That way they have money to spend during school and during breaks. If you wanted to go one step further students have a choice to put a % into a savings/rainy day acct.

    As for the student athlete that pays his/her own way, he/she could set up a plan to have that money used to pay his/her tuition in many different arrangements.

    This way the college/university can while compensating the student athlete, they are still instilling the value of responsibility and culpability.

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