The debate over whether the top college athletes should be paid more like professional players continues, even as those athletes now have more opportunities to make money in college sports.
While opponents argue that college football and basketball stars get free tuition, scholarships, and a platform to showcase their skills for professional teams, proponents of paying college athletes point out that these players' skills generate annual revenue of more than $ 14 billion for college sports bringing programs, and only a fraction of that money goes to players.
A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research seeks to determine how much money the best college soccer and basketball stars would make per season if they were compensated similar to professional players whose collective agreements with professional leagues guarantee them a stake of around 50 % of league sales.
According to the study, paying college stars similar to professional gamblers (by sharing half the revenue from their games and paying high-profile players a higher percentage) would mean top quarterbacks like Clemson's all-American caller Trevor Lawrence before the Season would earn an average of up to $ 2.4 million per season. A star-wide recipient would make up to $ 1.3 million a year, according to NBER.
The study also found that each starting player on a school basketball team in the five largest college sports conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC-12, and SEC) would earn between $ 800,000 and $ 1.2 million per season, depending on their school and the percentage of revenue shared with each player.
While the NCAA voted in October to allow college athletes to benefit from their name, image, and likeness (giving them the opportunity to make money from endorsements or branded social media posts), college players became college players banned from the NCAA in the past and not being directly compensated by their schools in order to uphold the rules of amateurism.
Because student-athletes are technically not employees of their schools, they are not covered by federal labor law, which would allow them to amalgamate and negotiate collective agreements with the NCAA as professional athletes have done with their respective leagues.
However, the NBER study's salary estimates "provide a plausible measure of what athletes could bargain for if they could bargain collectively," the nonprofit research organization said in the study's study.
For example, if soccer and basketball players in schools at these five largest conferences (commonly known as the "Power Five" conferences) were able to negotiate a collective agreement that shared 50% of their teams' earnings, the NBER study found. The average salary for soccer players would be $ 360,000 while the average salary for basketball would be $ 500,000.
Instead, the NBER study finds that "less than 7%" of college football and college basketball revenue – including multi-year television deals valued at billions of dollars – goes to those athletes' athletes in the form of academic grants and scholarships Cost of living coverage.
Debate over college athletes' right to unionize and negotiate the type of collective agreement the NBER study suspects has increased since the coronavirus pandemic suspended or postponed most major sporting events. Proponents of college athletes sharing revenue point to the added risks athletes playing college football or basketball this year are facing in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, as evidence that those athletes will receive higher compensation should get for their skills.
The Big 10 and PAC-12, both Power Five conferences, have already postponed their upcoming college football season after dozens of athletes announced they would end a season (although many other players have announced they want to play). But both players who opt out and those who say they want to play this season have endorsed the idea of a union for college athletes who could stand up for players and negotiate safety protocols with the NCAA and colleges.
This story first appeared on CNBC.com
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