Question: What exactly are college football players in the Division 1-A level rightly owed for their services? This includes tuition, out of pocket expenses, food, board, etc.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a perfect answer. I merely wish to provide something that sparks some discussion.
We’ll work with the following assumptions.
1. College football players should be paid. This assumption is justifiable since colleges already award scholarships for playing football.
2. College football players should NOT receive the entirety of the revenue generated by college football.
3. College scholarships have economic value.
4. We’ll attempt to emulate existing models for football player compensation within this realm. And by this, I mean we’ll assume that college players are deserving of the same percentage of the money as NFL players are for their efforts.
5. Only players who are on an athletic scholarship will be counted for the purpose of this evaluation.
First… what the hell is a college scholarship worth? Collegedata suggests that the average cost of tuition for an out of state student at a public school is $22,203, in state for public school is $8,893, and private schools average $30,094. The Division 1-A Schools run the gamut of academic institutions. The average of all three is $20,396.67. This is FAR from a perfect number, but it’s difficult to encapsulate the choices available to athletes if they didn’t have an athletic scholarship available to them.
If we’re going to factor in room and board (10,000/Year), textbooks and academic supplies ($1,200), along with a small stipend for non-entertainment expenses ($500), we’re looking at every year, the average D1-A player should receive a scholarship valued at $32,069.67 per year.
Second… what’s the total value of those scholarships? If we’re going to be fair to the colleges here, we need to factor this into the value of the money produced by college football. With 126 D1-A teams producing 85 scholarships each, a total of 10,710 players at any given time are receiving scholarships for football. 10,710 x $32,069.67 = $343,466,165.70 is the aggregate value of ALL D1-A football scholarships. Kind of a big number, actually.
Alright. So the real question is how much revenue these players actually generate. While the numbers can be a little difficult to pin down, what appeared to be the most accurate number is from the Department of Education. From their report, in the year 2012, D1-A college football generated a total of $3,178,772,448 in revenue. Add this into what’s already spent for the scholarships, and we’re looking at a D1-A football pie to break up of $3,522,238,613.70. Over three and a half billion dollars.
Okay. Now, the real question to this is how the money should be broken up. The NFL’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement states that the players will receive 47-48.5% of the revenue generated. While the actual process for that number is rather complicated…. let’s just boil it down to players will get 48.5% of the revenue generated from college football, since the closest comparision (NFL Players) receive the same share. With that, then players would by rights, be entitled to an aggregate total of $1,708,285,728.00 of the money generated. Splitting this pile a total of 10,710 ways yields a total of…
$159,503.80 per player. Of which, $127,434.13 of this money on average would be paid in salary, the remainder as tuition.
That’s quite a bit of money for a 18 year old kid. While I’m sure there’s a lot of questions that pop up, to me the most immediately alarming issue is this.
How can 18 year olds who come into a sudden windfall of money help the athletes from squandering this money, both by protecting them from themselves, and protecting them from other people?
…Let’s deal with these questions in another post.