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Sunday, July 24, 2016

What if Kansas paid its basketball players? It already does, sort of

From cost-of-attendance stipends to what comes next

Fans file through the doors of Allen Fieldhouse past the statue of Phog Allen in this file photo from Monday, Oct. 27, 2014.

Fans file through the doors of Allen Fieldhouse past the statue of Phog Allen in this file photo from Monday, Oct. 27, 2014.

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If you want to be a Kansas basketball player, 82 is an important number to know. It’s how many games are in an NBA season. It’s also how many times more money KU coach Bill Self made than his 13 men’s basketball scholarship athletes last year.

This may seem unbelievable, but it’s true: Self earned more than $3.9 million, while the 13 players on scholarship took home $47,372 combined. The unbelievable part is that the players were paid at all.

This was a new development last season: For the first time ever, NCAA student-athletes got a raise. A 2014 court ruling paved the way for Division I schools to implement what are called cost-of-attendance stipends. These stipends, which range from $1,400 to $6,100 per year, are considered additional financial aid to help scholarship students cover “miscellaneous” expenses. In a different light, they look like a bridge between two worlds: On one side is a place where student-athletes don’t get paid to play, an arrangement U.S. courts increasingly agree violates anti-trust laws. On the other side is a land of the unknown, where open-market forces promise to reshape the landscape of college sports as we know it. It’s easy to see why athletics departments are watching their steps while clinging to the ropes.

How KU student-athletes get paid

The annual value of a full athletics scholarship for an out-of-state KU athlete was $38,122 in 2015-16. “This covers books, tuition and fees, room, board and other educational expenses as determined by the university,” explained Jim Marchiony, KU Athletics Inc. spokesman. The scholarships are paid out in 10 installments during the educational year, and the amount varies depending on whether the student-athlete lives on or off campus. Here’s a look at how those payments break down:

Living on campus

Total per month: $731

Portion for board: $367

Portion from new COA stipend: $364

Living off campus

Total per month: $1,232

Portion for room: $501

Portion for board: $367

Portion from new COA stipend: $364

— Source: KU Athletics Inc.

Meanwhile, every bridge has its costs. For KU Athletics Inc., that was $870,000 in extra spending last year, the total amount of stipend money paid to its more than 300 full- and partial-scholarship athletes. For Division I students who don’t play sports, the price is more nebulous. In addition to serving as a benchmark for the new athletics stipends, a university’s cost-of-attendance figure, which we’ll call COA, effectively sets the ceiling for student borrowing. If it goes up, so can student debt.

And on the basketball court, the cost could be wins and losses. Only three Big 12 schools offer less in COA stipends than KU, based on a number that, theoretically at least, is beyond their control. What that will mean for recruiting is anyone’s guess. Early signs point to stability there, but as the numbers grow bigger, so will the stakes.

What is fair to the players? And what can athletics departments afford? As the courts try to put an end to these questions, KU players, families and athletics staff are seeking answers to them, too.

Former Kansas forward Jamari Traylor chest bumps former guard Brannen Greene (14) during a December 2015 game against San Diego State in San Diego. Traylor and Greene are both playing for the NBA Summer League in July, trying to land an NBA regular season roster spot and contract.

Former Kansas forward Jamari Traylor chest bumps former guard Brannen Greene (14) during a December 2015 game against San Diego State in San Diego. Traylor and Greene are both playing for the NBA Summer League in July, trying to land an NBA regular season roster spot and contract. by Nick Krug

Jeffrey Greene, whose son Brannen played three seasons for KU before turning pro this summer, believes you can’t put a price on a college education.

“The scholarship I got at Pittsburg State has allowed me to be financially independent,” explains the elder Greene, twice an all-conference selection in his days on the hardwood. “Without that degree, I would not be, and without that scholarship there was no way for my parents to put me through college.”

Still, it’s the job of financial aid professionals to try. Enter COA, a number constructed to represent the true price of attending a year of college. Last year, KU’s was set at $38,362 for an out-of-state student paying the standard rate. The package value of a full athletics scholarship like the one Brannen Greene received was basically the same — $38,122 — slightly adjusted down because the NCAA uses a fixed meal price as opposed to the one set by the university, according to KU Athletics spokesman Jim Marchiony. The new stipend portion of Greene’s aid was $3,644, divided into 10 payments of, essentially, pocket money.

“I think the stipends have really helped the kids,” says Greene’s father, adding: “And their families. Of course, for all parents, their financial situations are different.”

That was certainly the case for another recent KU departure, Jamari Traylor, who endured a year of homelessness on the streets of Chicago before finding his way to Lawrence. Traylor sent a portion of his COA money home to assist his mother, who still lives on the South Side, in paying her bills.

“It definitely helped me out a little bit,” Traylor told the Kansas City Star last month.

For players whose financial straits aren’t as dire as Traylor’s, it might be worth putting some of that money away. More than three-quarters of the 5,265 student-athletes who participate each year in Division I men’s basketball — a higher percentage than in any other sport — believe it’s likely they’ll go on to play professionally, according to the NCAA. At last month’s NBA draft, only 44 of them heard their names called.

Traylor and Greene were not among them. Just one Jayhawk was: Cheick Diallo, a 6-foot-9 freshman from Mali who barely played for KU before joining a growing list of “one-and-dones” — basketball players who pass through college for a single year simply to fulfill the NBA’s age restriction. Diallo recently struck a deal to play for the NBA rookie minimum salary of about $550,000 this fall, 14 times what he earned in financial aid compensation from Kansas. Meanwhile, Traylor and Greene, along with consensus all-American teammate Perry Ellis, caught on with the NBA Summer League, which doesn’t pay its players but offers free room, board, training and meals. Sound familiar? None of them is likely to make an NBA roster this fall.

“We bring a lot of money (to the NCAA),” Traylor observed. “There’s a lot of money to be passed around out there. I was definitely happy about (the stipends), and I’m not complaining or anything, but it’s a billion-dollar industry, right?”

Exactly how much money is “out there” is difficult to pin down. The NCAA reports its annual March Madness men’s basketball tournament is worth more than $1 billion. Throw in a few billion more from Division I schools’ combined ticket and apparel sales, plus the $9.2 billion Americans bet on the tournament each year, according to the American Gaming Association, and the number gets big fast. Last year, financial website Nerd Wallet used a theoretical revenue-sharing model to calculate the average value of a Kansas men’s basketball player at $608,500 annually. Put that number next to the $38,122 in annual financial aid a player like Traylor receives, and you can see his point.

As a former NCAA student-athlete and a father of two more, Jeffrey Greene is open to that line of argument, but he also sees potential pitfalls in an open-market approach.

“It opens up a Pandora’s box,” he says. “You start to lose control when they start paying the athletes. … The money would begin to come from the boosters, giving them more influence over players than even the coach. Then you have another world where now the coach has to balance the thoughts and wishes of the boosters.

“A highly heralded freshman recruit shouldn’t get paid $2,500 in salary per month just for showing up,” Greene adds. At the same time, he allows, the current system is only fair if student-athletes play out their four years and earn their degrees. Like his son, many of them don’t.

“I do believe in the maturation process for a college kid,” Greene says. “A little struggle helps a lot — it really helped me.”

The University of Alabama's cost of attendance mysteriously increased by almost 40 percent after head football coach Nick Saban criticized the basis for new NCAA student-athlete stipends last fall.

The University of Alabama's cost of attendance mysteriously increased by almost 40 percent after head football coach Nick Saban criticized the basis for new NCAA student-athlete stipends last fall.

How student-athlete pay affects players and their families is just one part of the equation. Nonstudent-athletes, institutions and their athletics departments are all part of the broader NCAA model. Move a needle in one area, and another invariably goes up or down.

“You can’t create a system that can really almost promote fraud.” That was Alabama head football coach Nick Saban’s reaction to the new stipends last fall, which gave his school a potential disadvantage in the SEC. Because Alabama had one of the lowest COAs in the conference — a factor that should make it more attractive to potential students because it represents affordability — the Crimson Tide’s student-athlete stipends were effectively capped at $3,463 per year, well behind many of their peers’.

That could pose a serious threat, Saban saw, to recruiting and player morale. A few months later, as if by magic, Alabama’s COA increased by almost 40 percent, rocketing its stipends to near the top of the SEC. But COA is set exclusively by a university’s financial aid office — far beyond the influence of coaches and athletics departments, at least in theory.

The SEC has since put rules in place that prohibit such sudden, mysterious adjustments.

Big 12 breakdown

Annual cost-of-attendance figures for an out-of-state undergraduate student living on campus this fall:

Baylor: $58,656

Texas Christian: $55,630

Texas: $46,791

Kansas: $39,764

Oklahoma: $38,172

West Virginia: $37,958

Texas Tech: $37,866

Kansas State: $37,356

Oklahoma State: $36,720

Iowa State: $33,260

— Source: Figures provided or published by individual schools

“When the rule first came down from the NCAA, we heard immediately from financial aid officers who were concerned that now athletics departments would be focusing on cost of attendance and looking for guidance on how to manage that,” recalls Karen McCarthy, director of policy analysis for the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators, whose member institutions are responsible for setting the number at nine out of 10 universities nationwide. “No one really cared about it before then.

“You already have pressure from those people who want to see student debt lowered,” she adds, “and now from the other side we’re hearing that athletics departments are interested in having (COA) go up because of the recent rule changes. So there’s definitely competing priorities.”

So far, that push and pull has been held in check at KU. A Journal-World analysis of the university’s cost-of-attendance figures before and after it began offering stipends found no dramatic changes. Since 2014, the COA for an out-of-state student paying the standard rate has increased by $2,656 — from $37,088 to $39,764 for a freshman this fall. Almost all of that change comes from rising tuition rates driven by Kansas budget cuts to higher education.

“Kansas University does not have a single cost-of-attendance rate for every student,” explained Andy Hyland, a KU spokesman. “Tuition costs vary between in-state and out-of-state students. … Some schools, such as the School of Pharmacy and the School of Law, have separate fee rates as well.”

Here’s a look at cost of attendance for an out-of-state KU undergraduate student paying the standard rate, as compared over three years:

Category 2014-15 2015-16* 2016-17
Tuition $22,476 $24,094 $24,962
Campus fee $858 $908 $910
Loan fees $80 $68 $72
Infrastructure fee n/a n/a $60
Housing, meals $9,138 $9,176 $9,610
Books $950 $1,040 $1,080
Transportation $2,004 $1,906 $1,900
Personal $1,582 $1,170 $1,170
Total $37,088 $38,362 $39,764
* Year when cost-of-attendance stipends for student athletes took effect
— Source: KU

“Staff members of Kansas Athletics Inc. do not provide any input into the annual process of determining the cost-of-attendance figures,” says KU spokesman Andy Hyland. “As part of the office of Financial Aid and Scholarships’ normal process, the office does conduct periodic surveys of students to help determine their actual costs of attendance. Student-athletes receive these surveys as well, and their responses are treated the same as any other student’s response.”

But at schools like Alabama, where the pressures are particularly intense — Forbes estimates the Crimson Tide football program alone is worth more than $95 million per year — nonstudent-athletes could be the ones who suffer.

“Some institutions now are worried about increased student indebtedness, because COA sets the uppermost boundary that they can borrow,” McCarthy explains.

A $5,000 jump in COA, for example, effectively means a degree-seeking student can borrow that much more per year, she notes. A multitude of research suggests freshman undergraduate students often assume the highest amount of debt possible, regardless of need. A handful of states, including Indiana and Nebraska, recently enacted legislation to help curb this phenomenon.

“At very high-cost institutions, the COA doesn’t affect student borrowing much,” McCarthy continues. “It’s a bigger issue at lower-cost institutions, like state schools. It really depends whether you think of the ability to borrow more as a positive or not. It could lead to more eligibility for student borrowers if they’re not already at the maximum, but then there are concerns if COA is artificially inflated it could scare students away.”

Bob Bowlsby, the commissioner of the athletic conference in which KU plays, told the Journal-World he hasn’t seen any evidence of COA inflation at Big 12 schools, a fact he’s proud of.

“However, on a national level,” he says, “athletics departments must refrain from trying to pressure financial aid offices to increase stipend values with the intent to benefit student-athlete recruiting.”

Incoming freshman Josh Jackson autographs a basketball during Bill Self camp registration on June 12 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Incoming freshman Josh Jackson autographs a basketball during Bill Self camp registration on June 12 at Allen Fieldhouse. by John Young

Is a larger stipend really a recruiting benefit? As Kansas and other Division I basketball programs step toward the land of the unknown, this has become the $3,644 question. Because everyone knows, sooner or later, it’s going to cost a lot more than that.

Nationwide, the average Division I stipend last year was $3,543, putting KU slightly ahead of the pack. But in the Big 12, which the Jayhawks have won for a dozen years in a row, they’re playing catch-up. Only Iowa State, West Virginia and Baylor offer less to their student-athletes when it comes to pocket money. Texas Tech leads the Big 12 with $4,820, followed by Texas Christian, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas State.

COA stipends

Nationally, KU’s annual cost-of-attendance stipend for an out-of-state, full-scholarship student-athlete — $3,644 — ranked just above the national average — $3,543 — for Division I schools in 2015-16, according to a CBS Sports survey of 110 universities. The survey looked at the highest stipend an athlete could receive last fall; that amount is not necessarily consistent across all sports and is distributed differently by each university. Schools independently calculate their stipends based on internal formulas using a percentage of COA as the ceiling, according to NCAA rules. Among schools that responded, Cincinnati offered the highest stipend at $6,082, while Boston College offered the lowest at $1,400. Here’s how KU compared with other Big 12 schools last year:

Texas Tech: $4,820

Texas Christian: $4,700

Oklahoma: $4,684

Oklahoma State: $4,640

Texas: $4,310

Kansas State: $4,160

Kansas: $3,644

Baylor: $3,632

West Virginia: $2,700

Iowa State: $2,430

— Source: KU; Big 12; CBS Sports

Total stipend spending

Cost-of-attendance stipends resulted in $160 million a year in additional benefits for Division I student-athletes starting last year, according to a USA Today survey of 92 schools. Across all sports, universities used the new stipends to increase annual student-athlete financial aid anywhere from $46,500 (Northern Iowa) to $2.1 million (Auburn). Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas Christian and Oklahoma did not publish their numbers. Here’s how KU compared with the other Big 12 schools in total stipend spending:

Texas: $1.6 million

Kansas State: $1.2 million

Oklahoma State: $1.06 million

Kansas: $870,000

Iowa State: $750,000

West Virginia: $570,000

— Source: USA Today survey of Division I universities; KU number provided by KU

Is $1,176 per year enough for a recruit to choose becoming a Red Raider over becoming a Jayhawk? Probably not. But what will happen when the gap gets bigger?

If you’re one of the most heavily recruited players in the world, an Andrew Wiggins or a Josh Jackson, you probably don’t care. Wiggins, a former Jayhawk, set the bar for one-and-dones when he turned pro after his freshman year and became the first pick in the NBA Draft. Jackson, who’ll suit up at Allen Fieldhouse this fall, hopes to do the same. For top recruits enticed by money, a more lucrative option is to jump straight from high school to a year of competition overseas, a path most recently blazed by the Denver Nuggets’ Emmanuel Mudiay, who earned $1.2 million playing as an 18-year-old in China instead of enrolling in college. Such are the prices that could one day dominate an open-market NCAA.

"It's going to be so much different 20 years from now than the way it is," Self said recently when asked about the possibility of marquee prospects going international or to the NBA Development League. "I think all coaches are concerned, especially the ones that are able to ... recruit what most people consider to be the most elite guys."

That said, an analysis of ESPN 100 recruiting over the past three years, before and after COA stipends were offered, appears to show no significant shift in top high school basketball prospects’ college choices so far. For the upcoming season, Kansas landed three blue-chip players — Jackson, Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot — after earning commitments from three and two blue-chippers in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Duke, the top recruiting program in the nation over those three years, averaged 4.33 ESPN 100 recruits in the same period. Duke’s stipend is set at $3,500. Cincinnati, which offers the highest stipend in the nation at $6,082, landed one blue-chip prospect in 2016 after signing zero the previous two years.

Lightfoot, the No. 67 prospect in ESPN’s 2016 class, says he knew nothing of the stipends when making his commitment to KU, and that seems to be par for the course for new Jayhawks, according to KU Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger.

“I have not heard of an instance in which the stipend has had an effect on recruiting one way or the other,” he says.

“I think our recruits are attracted by the totality of KU’s commitment to the student-athlete in areas such as academics, coaching, housing, health care and training, nutrition, leadership training and career placement,” Zenger explains. “I think they see the cost-of-attendance stipend as just one piece of a much larger picture.”

The $11.2 million McCarthy Hall houses the Kansas men's basketball team to the southeast of Allen Fieldhouse on KU's campus.

The $11.2 million McCarthy Hall houses the Kansas men's basketball team to the southeast of Allen Fieldhouse on KU's campus. by Mike Yoder

Although the extra money paid in stipends to KU athletes has not been large, it has been noticed by the athletes.

“I have heard plenty of accounts about how the stipends have helped student-athletes buy necessities, do some fun things, purchase some ‘extras’ they couldn’t afford before, and even help their families back home,” Zenger says.

Thus far, the stipends are hardly noticeable in KU's budget. Absorbing the additional $870,000 for the stipends made little difference to the department's budget, which has about $100 million in expenses.

But certainly there could be a day when those stipend numbers could be much larger, and could turn into budget-busters. There are advocates who believe athletic programs should face no cap in the amount of stipends they pay to student athletes.

Remember that study that said KU basketball players had a theoretical fair market value of $608,500? Multiply that number by 13 student-athletes on the basketball team, then double that number to satisfy Title IX, which requires equal benefits for the women's team. In that scenario, Kansas is facing a $15.8 million annual bill for less than 10 percent of its funded participants across all sports.

Even if the number is a fraction of that, it can become a significant one for athletic department budgets.

“Fair value requires a fair market, and we don’t have that now,” says Andy Schwarz, an attorney who specializes in sports economics. Schwarz is a consultant on the O’Bannon v. NCAA class action lawsuit moving through U.S. courts, which challenges the organization’s use of student-athlete images for commercial purposes. A district court judge’s 2014 ruling in that case paved the way for the stipends, and last year, a week before McCarthy Hall opened, a federal appeals court sided with the plaintiffs, arguing that the NCAA violates anti-trust laws. The O’Bannon case is expected to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court next year, where a ruling in student-athletes’ favor could forever reshape the landscape of college sports.

“Paying COA is better for the athlete than not paying COA,” argues Schwarz, who advocates for an open-market approach, “but fair value will only emerge if the schools stop agreeing to a nationwide cap, and then each athlete could field offers until the mix of benefits suited him or her best.

“My general view is KU should be able to offer an athlete as much or as little as it wants, and accept the consequences if they get outbid by other schools.”

When asked about O’Bannon, Zenger is understandably reticent.

“I favor making student-athletes’ college experience the best it can be,” he says. “And while I lean a bit toward the liberal side on some of these issues, I choose not to go into great detail while so many of the issues are still in the courts.”

While the U.S. legal system dribbles out the issues, three former Jayhawks will keep trying to make their mark on the courts, too. Traylor finished his NBA Summer League play for the Indiana Pacers on July 8 in Orlando. That same weekend, Greene and Ellis suited up in Las Vegas for their respective teams, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks.

It was a new experience, full of butterflies and surprises, but one thing hadn’t changed since college: For the foreseeable future, it looks like they’ll be playing — mostly, at least — for free.

Comments

Humpy Helsel 12 months ago

"But COA is set exclusively by a university’s financial aid office — far beyond the influence of coaches and athletics departments, at least in theory." Yea, right. Whatever. I guess the rule prohibiting sudden increases put in place by the SEC was "precautionary." I totally get this, and I'm happy for the student athletes. But this can of worms is now open, and for good or bad (probably some of both), it will never close again. BTW, nice story Jason. You did some real research on this.

Chris Shaw 12 months ago

Very good story! Finally, someone in the media is starting to talk about this and actually break down the numbers. Kudos to the athletes. Long overdue!

Still a lot of gray areas that need to be worked out but it's a step in the right direction. More percentage of the $$$ still needs to be increased for these athletes but it's a process.

I've been advocating this for years and I'm finally glad to see it come to fruition. Baby Steps!

Suzi Marshall 12 months ago

This story hits on a very small but consequential effects that the corrupting influence of government has on the cost of education. The cost of education keeps going up without any relations to the real value of the market but the government's ever increasing loan programs, that comes for the middle class tax payers. Student loan debt is beyond the crisis stage.

Their is no doubt the need for a college education is of extreme value and necessity but how good are many of the ridiculous majors colleges offer. What about the ridiculous administrative cost school like Kansas keep escalating. The additional cost for these 'diversity' programs are just crazy. Why do parents, like me, pay $750 per credit hour when they can pay $135 per credit hour at a Juco for the same Calc II class? There is only so much value attending college at a place like Kansas.

Michael Leiker 12 months ago

I think you're saying that the loan programs are the cause of the increase in college costs? If so, I'm very happy to see somebody post this. There's almost a perfect correlation between loan programs and average tuition costs at universities. You want to lower the cost of college? Cut the heck out of the loan programs.

Suzi Marshall 12 months ago

Yes absolutely. Look how and who promotes those loans. It stinks how they mild the middle class that is/has been breaking.

Kyle Rohde 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Yep. Mark Cuban has done interviews about this and his proposal is to cap the amount a student can borrow per year. That would then force the schools to stop raising tuition to whatever they want, since they know the government-backed loan programs will keep giving the kids the money.

Seeing those numbers for KU was shocking. I went to KU from 2001-2005 as an out-of-state student and, when I started, the full cost (including housing) was stated to be under $15,000. It's more than doubled in only 15 years.

Titus Canby 12 months ago

Michael, I've heard other parents say the exact same thing and I agree with you 100%. It's a never ending spiral. The government makes the loans, driving up the costs, increasing the needs for more loans, and then creates some kind of "student welfare" plan to help pay off the loans.

Jeff Coffman 12 months ago

I remember at KU's tax class a little over 15 years ago, Professor Allen was talking about the newly implemented Hope and Lifetime Learning credits. Students began to talk about how that would make tuition more affordable, others talked how they wish it was here years ago. Pro Allen than discussed how he would be the happiest because this meant KU would be able to raise tuition and no direct impact would happen to the students. However, he than stopped and asked who would be paying for it and is KU now becoming more dependent on student loans credits and other subsidies from the federal government versus the state government. Sine than student loans have been revamped, a few years ago over a trillion dollars was outstanding in student loan principle. These tweaks as mentioned lead towards lasting changes 10-15 years later. The unintended consequences of rules can become worse than the problem they are trying to fix.

The issue with paying athletes might be there isn't an alternative to earn money for these services, not that universities aren't paying them.

Many say that athletes should be paid because it is the right thing to do. Athletes will be paid when there is an alternative that will pay them more.

Joe Caldwell 12 months ago

In terms of compensation, these student-athletes are getting paid over $38,000 per year and not just $1,400 to $6,100 per year. In addition, this figure does not include the additional benefits they receive for free for health care services and tutoring services. Furthermore, it doesn't include free travel and meals paid for by the University when they are on travel trips, sometimes to destinations that few normal citizens get to go to during their lifetimes. Finally, their "total compensation" should include the value of the college degree they are being given. Since almost all of these student-athletes won't get paid to play professionally, the increase in their lifetime earnings potential from having a college degree should be included in what they are getting paid. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the difference in lifetime earnings between a high school grad and a college grad with a bachelors degree is about $1,000,000. In addition, the BLS also states unemployment rates for college grads is about half of that for high school grads.

In comparison, I did a quick google search on how much a minor league baseball player and a NBA d-league player make. For minor league baseball, they are lucky if they make $2,500 a month for a 6 month season, and they only get paid during the season. In addition, they get $25 per day for meals only when they are on the road. A NBA d-league player gets a salary of somewhere between $15,000 and $25,000 per year, and they get about $40 per day for meals when on the road. Keep in mind, there is no additional residual value (the college degree) that these minor league players are receiving. So, it appears that the student-athletes are being "paid" handsomely already.

Noel Graham 12 months ago

The way it is set up now it rewards schools that have a higher cost of attendance and in fact the more they increase tuition, room and board and other fees the more they can supplement their players. How about coming up with a system that puts pressure on the schools to lower costs? Give every scholarship athlete in the nation the same amount of money, say $60K or $70K and they pay their own tuition, room and board and other fees. If you go to a less expensive school or one that is in-state you put more money in your pocket.

Suzi Marshall 12 months ago

If you are going pay them, that makes good $en$e. All subsidies, including raising tuition and student fees is a non-starter for an already overburdened middle class tax payer class.

Dirk Medema 12 months ago

Really nice article Jason. Good to see the research. Guessing it will be published in a lot more papers than the LJW.

That being said, I hate the total compensation vs. take home comparisons of the 2nd paragraph. Even the COA figures don't seem to include the total value of being a part of an elite program. What would be the cost of the elite training program, not just of Coach Self, but of Hudy and all the others.

It is great that the players are getting some $, but the $600k results and the others like it are a bunch of sophistic garbage.

Chris Shaw 12 months ago

You don't think the $600,000 is fair market value for a Kansas basketball player?

Dirk Medema 12 months ago

I didn't say FMV. Not sure anyone could determine FMV given the number of unknowns. We're a long ways from a fair market scenario. I would say that the value of our players at $600k is as accurate as saying that Louisville's players are worth twice as much as ours.

For more discussion, I would defer to much of the comments below.

Dirk Medema 12 months ago

Important quote from the article's conclusion

"Second, most teams would earn significant revenue regardless of the names on the roster. For example, Duke’s basketball team would likely generate substantial revenue even if Okafor — likely to be a top pick in the 2015 NBA draft — wasn’t suiting up for the school."

Steve Jacob 12 months ago

The NCAA schools bring in 12 Billion a year revenue, around what the NFL does.

It the cable business world, the saying is "Content is King". The ones the produce the product makes the most money. That is why everyone is producing as much original content as possible, from Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube. What I am saying is the players are the most important part on the TV revenues, an they are paid the least.

Noel Graham 12 months ago

In 2010 schools with football spent on average $91K per athlete. The SEC reported in 2013 that its schools spent $163K per athlete. Football and basketball bring in the money but that money must be used to pay for the non-revenue athletes as well. It isn't the football players fault that the other sports don't carry their own weight but it isn't the schools fault either. They are required to carry these sports to satisfy Title Nine. There are 420,000 NCAA student athletes on scholarship. The present system works for the vast majority of student athletes but could be considered unfair for the elite athlete in the revenue sports. For me the fault lies with the Federal Government and its requirements and the Professional sports leagues that will not allow players to earn a living earlier than they do. Schools will not be allow to pay football or basketball players without giving equal treatment to other scholarship athletes.

Titus Canby 12 months ago

Let's make this a true business.College athletes should no longer be required to attend classes. You're here to make money for the university. You're no longer a student. You're a salaried employee. A professional athlete. You make whatever salary you can negotiate. There are no limits to hours spent practicing. You pay your own room and board. All income is taxed. There is no more need for athletic scholarships, because the athletes aren't students. Let's leave education to those who want an education, and quit the charade of the "student athlete."

DB Ashton 12 months ago

It is inarguable that Kansas basketball players are under compensated in terms of their collective contributions to the "program." (It's also inarguable that some of them are more valuable than others. Shall we bid on them independently? Must we rehire them? Can we give them a bonus? A raise?)

I'm among that mostly silent bunch of hypocrites that opposes highly competitive scholarship athletics as incompatible with the university mission, but wouldn't miss a game if I could help it.

Maybe a Kansas player IS worth some $600K a year by some measure. But the figure that's missing here is what he costs. That figure is a great deal more than cost of attendance. While the program operates at a profit (unlike most college basketball operations), I am uncertain that it might remain profitable if one subtracts indirect income from sources like the Williams Fund. And how do you classify a ball, a uniform, or the like. Cost? Or benefit? It's fair to say that an individual player might cost something in the neighborhood of $200K a year to maintain. If the program just manages to break even from the perspective of direct income, or worse, should the player pay to play?

I believe it's good the NCAA is being dragged into some measure of an equitable solution, given that we're all basketball cuckoo, and wish to remain so, but the best way forward remains unclear.

Michael Lorraine 12 months ago

Not opposed to paying athletes but wouldn't all athletes in all sports have to be paid to avoid a Title IX violation.

Doug Cramer 12 months ago

let the free market be free.

If a university wants to pay athletes to get them into their schools...so be it

Government needs to get out of the way. And so does Hillary

Tom Jones 12 months ago

There are lots of places on the internet to discuss politics, Doug. Let's keep it out of this forum.

Michael Leiker 12 months ago

It's a chicken and egg argument to me. Do the players have value because of donors/ticket holders willingness to support the school and the specific programs, or do the donors/ticket holders pay what they pay because of the individual abilities of the players/athletes. I would love to see a poll of Williams Fund and other school's donor funds on this topic. In my mind, people support the university and the individual athletics programs. I know for me some of the one and done's make it more and more difficult to justify buying tickets and our small donation every month, it kind of feels like you're supporting something corrupt. So the idea of some of the most talented guys getting a bigger paycheck definitely would make me rethink my support. I think the value of a KU basketball player is ultimately and mainly derived from the name on the front of the jersey, not on the back. KU Athletics and the KU community as a whole own that property and should value it very highly as they think through how to handle this new world of college athletics.

Mike Greer 12 months ago

Call me old fashioned or out of touch, but I'm a believer in the "Student Athlete". If universities are expected to pay athletes, then the athletes should just go to their respective sports right out of high school or sooner if they can. Let the NHL, NBA, MLB, and NFL have their minor leagues and pay the athletes and let the Universities have Students. I don't mind a scholarship or the COA, but that's where I draw the line between athlete and student athlete. I'd rather see a team of true student athletes doing their best for the love of the game and a free education, than the one and done players the NBA has created.

And for the record, my son was a Div. 1 student athlete, so I know how much time and effort goes into the athlete portion of "student athlete". The parents of many student athletes have spent a lot of money getting those athletes the training and coaching they need to become student athletes. And still, I don't believe they should be paid like professionals if they are in college, and I don't want to see a college team be mercenaries, playing for the team with the most money to offer. It's not the spirit of college sports.

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