Progress in College Sports (and more on athletes being underpaid!)

Yesterday was an interesting day in college sports.  The National Labor Relations Board ruled that football players at Northwestern University are employees and therefore they have a right to unionize.  Lester Munson – at ESPN.com – provides a good discussion of what this means. Given my involvement in the case, I am pleased with this outcome.

And as I noted last week at the Atlantic, it is my view that many college athletes are paid quite a bit less than their worth.  At The Atlantic I illustrated this by looking at the University of Kansas.  I have data on every Division I-A team since 2009-10, so we can examine this issue for a large number of schools.  For example, consider the Iowa State Cyclones in 2013-14 (prior to the NCAA tournament).

Player

Wins

Produced

WP40

Economic

Value

Amount

Underpaid

DeAndre Kane

6.8

0.243

$1,140,025

$1,014,775

Dustin Hogue

5.2

0.214

$865,887

$740,637

Monte Morris

4.9

0.214

$809,648

$684,397

Melvin Ejim

3.7

0.148

$610,231

$484,980

Naz Long

1.3

0.077

$209,833

$84,583

Matt Thomas

1.2

0.068

$204,194

$78,943

Daniel Edozie

0.6

0.208

$98,517

-$26,734

Georges Niang

0.5

0.018

$75,118

-$50,132

Percy Gibson

0.0

0.029

$7,798

-$117,453

Tyler Ellerman

0.0

0.071

$5,888

-$119,363

Sherron Dorsey-Walker

0.0

0.003

$1,359

-$123,891

K.J. Bluford

0.0

0.000

$0

-$125,250

Summation

24.2

$4,028,498

$2,525,492

 

My decision to look at the Iowa State Cyclones was motivated by something I heard last weekend.  After Georges Niang was hurt, the story I heard was that the Cyclones had lost their “best” player (at least, I think I heard someone say this).

The above numbers tell two stories:

1. Niang is not the most productive player on the Cyclones.  And if we take the USA Today estimate of the value of a college education (which as I note at The Atlantic, is probably wrong), Niang wasn’t even underpaid.

2.The players on the Cyclones are still generally underpaid.  And DeAndre Kane is underpaid by more than $1 million.

If I have time, I will try an post this kind of analysis for other teams (of course, time is increasingly hard to find at the moment :)

- DJ

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