Guess How Much Your Alma Mater Owes Its Athletes?

While doing some research for a real-job article, I came across this doozy of a study by the National College Players Association and the Drexel University Sports Management Department that shows the NCAA is using the “amateurism” guise to deny roughly $6 billion per year that athletes in a fair-market system would be earning.

The study, released in March, used 2011-12 revenue figures and the NBA’s and NFL’s collective bargaining agreement terms to unveil just how much each of the 120+ schools in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision would owe each of their star athletes. The figures are staggering.

If these two college sports operated under the same revenue sharing agreements as their pro counterparts—NFL players get a 46.5 percent cut of total revenue, NBA it’s 50-50—than what players are currently being compensated with (full rides) wouldn’t even come close to covering the total cost.

Take for example the University of Louisville, the reigning NCAA Men’s D-I Basketball champions, and the school whose football team currently employs a Heisman trophy front runner in Teddy Bridgewater (screenshot via a pretty nifty infographic put together by Time):

Louisville athletes pay

The Cardinal are one of the more egregious violators when it comes to “robbing from its athletes,” especially in the case of basketball. According to records, the school’s basketball team helped to generate nearly $42.5 million in revenue. If that were to be split 50-50 and then divided amongst the team’s 13 players, each would be owed about $1.63 million. Then, when you take into account the value of the full scholarship for that year, that drags the total down to $1.61 million. Incredible.

I put together some incoherent babble on this issue over the weekend, but the figures from this study really ought to open some eyes. I’m not saying that college players should be making a couple hundred thousand each for playing, but if that’s really how much the school owes and would be able to pay each athlete based on the revenue figures, then who’s to say that money couldn’t be divided up among the other sports on campus to at least make sure these athletes have enough money to keep their fridges stocked?

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