College athletes don’t collect paychecks the way their counterparts in the pros do. But if they did, University of Texas at Austin football players would score big.
New data from Business Insider indicates the average Longhorn football player would rake in an estimated $666,029 a year, based on the UT football program’s average annual revenue of $120.5 million over the past three years. That’s the highest per-player market value among the country’s 20 most profitable college football programs.
In case you were wondering, UT’s head football coach, Tom Herman, is poised to pull in $28.75 million in basic compensation under his current five-year contract.
Using figures from the U.S. Department of Education and Ellen Staurowsky, a professor at Drexel University’s Center for Sport Management, Business Insider calculated how much the typical player in each of the top 20 football programs would be worth if he were compensated like an NFL player. Business Insider arrived at the estimates by applying the current minimum that NFL players receive and splitting that share evenly among each team’s 85 scholarship players.
On average, a player who competes at a school in the NCAA’s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (the top tier of college football programs) is worth $163,087 a year, according to Business Insider.
At No. 2 on the list is the University of Alabama, where the average football player is worth $545,357 a year. Next is the University of Michigan ($510,153), followed by the University of Tennessee ($501,260) and the University of Notre Dame ($488,833).
Down the list are two of UT’s most despised foes: the University of Oklahoma and Texas A&M University. OU ranks eighth, with a per-player value of $450,185, and A&M ranks 14th, with a per-player value of $356,875.
While UT’s standing on the Business Insider list may offer bragging rights for the Longhorns, the university’s football players shouldn’t be banking on a six-figure paycheck, at least in the foreseeable future.
UT President Greg Fenves has been quoted as saying that he “cannot comprehend” how student-athletes could be paid beyond their scholarships. If UT athletes were paid, Fenves fears that alumni would perceive the university as “just another professional sports team.”
State Rep. John Kuempel, a Seguin Republican who played football at UT, sides with Fenves. At a 2015 panel discussion about paying student-athletes, Kuempel said:
“I disagree with having paid players. What is the percentage of people who go on to make money in professional sports? It’s miniscule. Once you start paying athletes, they will not pay attention to what’s going to keep them afloat for the rest of their lives. In the end, sports are there to teach you what to do with the rest of your life.”
Toward the other end of the field on this issue is the National College Players Association. A 2013 study by the association and Drexel University argues that student-athletes — especially football players — aren’t fairly compensated for their market value.
“The business practices of the NCAA and major conferences governing big-time football suggest that they … own the players,” the study says. “Findings from this study offer an indictment of the principle of amateurism used by the NCAA to enforce a system that distributes the wealth generated by big money college sport programs away from the players and redirects it to coaches, administrators, conference commissioners, bowl executives, colleges and universities, and corporate entities.”