What would the average college football player be worth on the free market? A report from Drexel University and the National Collegiate Players Association says $178,000.
The results of the survey were released Monday and are clearly more ammunition for the unionization efforts at Northwestern University after the National Labor Relations Board ruled scholarship players were classified as employees of the university. The NCPA is helping facilitate the Northwestern union push.
"The bidding war for athletes would likely be in the millions," said Ellen Staurowsky, a professor of sports management at Drexel University and co-author of the report. "However, I think it all depends on whether or not a players' association ends up representing the teams and players. The salaries could be effectively bargained to have some sort of minimum guaranteed salary for all."
The report says the figures were used via the revenue from each NCAA team and the percentage of revenue sharing in the NFL and NBA collective bargaining agreements.
Men's college basketball players were worth far more than football players at $375,000. However, it's a figure that's misleading on its own. There are far fewer basketball scholarships (13) than football scholarships (85), so basketball players are getting a much bigger piece of the pie.
Unsurprisingly, the report says Johnny Manziel would have been the most valuable college football player in 2012 with an estimated value of $547,000. Andrew Wiggins' value to the University of Kansas during the 2013-2014 college basketball season was cited at roughly $1.6 million.
It's imperative to emphasize the word "average" when citing the figures. Because of the revenue programs bring in, it's entirely possible a scholarship player at Texas or Alabama who never sees the field could be worth more than the quarterback at a school like Western Michigan. Given the quotes by NCAA president Mark Emmert at the Final Four, the NCAA likes to pretend that each college athlete is worth the same, even if he or she participates in a sport that loses money for a university.
And anyway, bidding wars are already happening. Just look at the arms race schools have engaged in via facilities and amenities for players. The NCAA just doesn't want it to spread to cash, even if may be happening under the table through other channels.
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