College basketball players are worth as much as $1.5 million per year

Duke basketball okaforGrant Halverson/Getty ImagesJahlil Okafor is worth over $US1 million to Duke.

For most big-time college sports programs the men’s basketball team is a distant second to football in terms of revenue. But considering less operating expenses and a fewer number of athletes, the average men’s basketball player is actually worth a lot more than their football counterparts.

If the NCAA used a similar method of dispersing revenue as used by the NFL, the average University of Texas scholarship football player would have a fair market value of $US605,000 per year. Using the same method for men’s basketball, the University of Louisville comes out on top with an average annual value of $US1.5 million for their 13 scholarships players.

In all, four teams have players with an average fair market value of more than $US1.0 million if schools were to give the players a cut of the revenue they help the schools generate. Three of those teams (Louisville, Arizona, and Duke) are still alive in the NCAA Tournament. The fourth, Syracuse, is serving a self-imposed postseason ban due to NCAA infractions.

We calculated the Fair Market Value of college basketball players for the 20 men’s basketball programs with the most annual revenue. Using the NBA’s most recent collective bargaining agreement in which the players receive a minimum of 49% of all revenue, each program’s revenue was split between the school (51%) and the athletes (49%) with the players’ share split evenly among the 13 scholarship players.

Some of the value goes back into scholarships, including living expenses. But that value is typically less than $US50,000 per year, per athlete.

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