New study says UT football players would make big money if paid like pros

A new study calculates how much a UT football player is worth to the Longhorns. Spoiler alert: it's a lot. Tim Warner/Getty Images

Originally appeared on CultureMap/Austin.

College athletes don’t collect paychecks the way their counterparts in the pros do. But if they did, University of Texas at Austin football players would score big.

New data from Business Insider indicates the average Longhorn football player would rake in an estimated $666,029 a year, based on the UT football program’s average annual revenue of $120.5 million over the past three years. That’s the highest per-player market value among the country’s 20 most profitable college football programs.

In case you were wondering, UT’s head football coach, Tom Herman, is poised to pull in $28.75 million in basic compensation under his current five-year contract.

Using figures from the U.S. Department of Education and Ellen Staurowsky, a professor at Drexel University’s Center for Sport Management, Business Insidercalculated how much the typical player in each of the top 20 football programs would be worth if he were compensated like an NFL player. Business Insiderarrived at the estimates by applying the current minimum that NFL players receive and splitting that share evenly among each team’s 85 scholarship players.

On average, a player who competes at a school in the NCAA’s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (the top tier of college football programs) is worth $163,087 a year, according to Business Insider.

At No. 2 on the list is the University of Alabama, where the average football player is worth $545,357 a year. Next is the University of Michigan ($510,153), followed by the University of Tennessee ($501,260) and the University of Notre Dame ($488,833).

Down the list are two of UT’s most despised foes: the University of Oklahoma and Texas A&M University. OU ranks eighth, with a per-player value of $450,185, and A&M ranks 14th, with a per-player value of $356,875.

While UT’s standing on the Business Insider list may offer bragging rights for the Longhorns, the university’s football players shouldn’t be banking on a six-figure paycheck, at least in the foreseeable future.

UT President Greg Fenves has been quoted as saying that he “cannot comprehend” how student-athletes could be paid beyond their scholarships. If UT athletes were paid, Fenves fears that alumni would perceive the university as “just another professional sports team.”

State Rep. John Kuempel, a Seguin Republican who played football at UT, sides with Fenves. At a 2015 panel discussion about paying student-athletes, Kuempel said:

“I disagree with having paid players. What is the percentage of people who go on to make money in professional sports? It’s miniscule. Once you start paying athletes, they will not pay attention to what’s going to keep them afloat for the rest of their lives. In the end, sports are there to teach you what to do with the rest of your life.”

Toward the other end of the field on this issue is the National College Players Association. A 2013 study by the association and Drexel University argues that student-athletes — especially football players — aren’t fairly compensated for their market value.

“The business practices of the NCAA and major conferences governing big-time football suggest that they … own the players,” the study says. “Findings from this study offer an indictment of the principle of amateurism used by the NCAA to enforce a system that distributes the wealth generated by big money college sport programs away from the players and redirects it to coaches, administrators, conference commissioners, bowl executives, colleges and universities, and corporate entities.”

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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