Dave Berri on paying NCAA athletes (via Freakonomics)

image credit: MattCC716

image credit: MattCC716


Over at Freakonomics, Dave Berri has written another post about paying NCAA athletes. This one expands on the comments he made to CBS earlier in the week and also uses the newly unveiled NCAA Wins Produced. Here’s an excerpt:

A few days ago, CBS News did a story on whether the labor market the NCAA employs should be changed. This story focused on a lawsuit filed by former college star Ed O’Bannon, which disputes the NCAA practice of not compensating players for using their likeness in video games. The discussion, though, quickly turned to the issue of whether or not college players should be paid (more than a scholarship). As one can see – both in the article and in the four videos included in the story – I tend to think the scholarship is not adequate compensation for many athletes.

To illustrate, consider the Indiana Hoosiers this season. An examination of the player statistics reveals that Victor Oladipo produced 7.37 wins for Indiana (the Wins Produced calculation for college basketball was similar – in fact, amazingly similar — to what has been done for the NBA). We are working on the economic value of a win in college basketball, but a conservative estimate is that a win is worth at least $100,000 for a program like Indiana. Given the number of wins Oladipo produced and the conservative value of a win, Oladipo’s production was worth (i.e. his Marginal Revenue Product) about $737,000 (and again, this is a crude and conservative estimate).

The article goes on to list the estimated value of the productivity of all 16 Indiana Hoosiers, including Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Maurice Creek, and Christian Watford. It also compares the salaries of NCAA basketball coaches to NBA coaches, and tackles the argument that paying NCAA athletes would ruin the competitive balance of the NCAA.

Go check it out!

– Devin

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