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Where does that NCAA revenue go, anyway?

Posted by Christopher Shea  March 23, 2009 09:35 PM

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Understatement of the week:

Top-level college sports is big business, but very little of this flows to the student-athletes.

Recently, the UConn coach Jim Calhoun angrily cited the revenue that his basketball team brings into the university when a reporter challenged him on the justice of his earning $1.6 million annually. As the WSJ opinion essay quoted above goes on to point out, however, what people are paying to see is near-NBA-quality talent on the court (and in the case of a few players, NBA-quality talent full stop). Yet sports skills that on an open market are worth tens of millions of dollars earn, for student-athletes, $50,000 or less annually -- paid in kind in the form of tuition, room, and board.

Nevertheless, observe Richard Vedder and Matthew Denhart, "In 2006, salaries for coaches and administrators accounted for nearly 32 percent of total athletic-department expenses."

Nice work if you can get it. Calhoun got it.

Via Greg Mankiw

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1 comments so far...
  1. If college sports really were big business, then the big salaries might be justified. But in terms of dollar volume, an athletic program in the highest division (the whole thing, not one team) is on average much smaller than, say, a Home Depot store - where the managers aren't paid in the millions.

    What top college coaches are paid for may be precisely inducing "near-NBA-quality" talent to play for them for virtually nothing; that is, they're primarily recruiters. If college players were paid market salaries, it's possible that college sports would be a bigger business, but the coaches might be paid less.

    Posted by Mr Punch March 25, 09 10:48 AM
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