So how much could TCU football players earn if they were paid in a free-market system, like their coaches and administrators?
Does $246,465 sound about right?
That’s the “fair-market value” for each of the 85 scholarship players, using a formula developed by Ellen Staurowsky, a sport management professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, whose work was featured in Business Insider.
Staurowsky used the NFL’s revenue-sharing system for her calculations. Under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, players receive a minimum of 47 percent of revenues.
Power 5 athletes receive tuition, room and board, plus “cost of attendance” stipends. At TCU, the scholarship is valued at $58,090, and athletes received a stipend of $4,700 in 2015-16.
TCU’s football program has generated an average of $44.6 million each of the past three years, according to the Department of Education. Last year at TCU, the football team’s $52 million in revenue yielded an $18.5 million profit. That money was used to cover the fiscal losses of the other teams on campus.
Of course, when players win on the field, they help in other ways, such as applicants to the university. In an interview earlier this month, TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte described the exposure that comes with being a Top 10 team (as TCU was for most of the season) as “tremendous, immeasurable and priceless.”
TCU also recently announced a plan to spend $100 million to add 1,000 club seats and 20 luxury suites. Those additions are expected to be completed just before the start of the 2019 season.
The financial windfall and on-the-field success has helped push coach Gary Patterson’s pay to among the highest in the nation. In 2015, Patterson earned $5.1 million, according to the university’s most recent tax filing. Former football co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham was the highest-paid assistant coach that season with a total compensation of $648,000. TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte earned $1.23 million.
According to Business Insider, the average football team takes in roughly $29.5 million, with the average “fair-market value” of a football player at $163,000. University of Texas players have the highest value, at $660,029, with Alabama second at $545,357.
The NCAA has a student-athlete advisory committee to discuss rules and potential legislation. Staurowsky, though, is concerned about the potential for changes.
“The NCAA, the Power 5 conferences, athletic directors, coaches, administrators, all of them have significant financial conflicts of interest in these entities,” she said. “And I don’t consider these athlete advisory committees to be genuine player representative groups. In the absence of the Power 5 and the NCAA negotiating in good faith with players, I think we’re a long way off from really establishing what that player value in the market could be.”