• November 27, 2022

Report: College athletes with scholarships live in poverty

A report from the National College Players Association called “The Price of Poverty in Big Time College Sport” examines the costs of student-athlete expenses with the salaries of coaches and athletic administrators.

The NCPA and Drexel University Department of Sport Management conducted a joint study, which blames colleges sports scandals on a black market created by unethical and unpractical NCAA restrictions on college athletes.  Examining football and basketball teams from Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) colleges, the study calculates athletes’ out-of-pocket educational related expenses associated with a “full” scholarship, compares the room and board portion of players’ scholarships to the federal poverty line and coaches’ and athletic administrators’ salaries, and uses NFL and NBA collective bargaining agreements to estimate the fair market value of FBS football and basketball players.  The study highlights college presidents’ admission of their inability to reform college sports and calls for federal intervention to help bring forth a new model of amateurism in college sports that emphasizes education, minimizes violations, and allows players to seek commercial opportunities.

Highlights of the Study

  • The average scholarship shortfall (out-of-pocket expenses) for each “full” scholarship athlete was approximately $3222 per player during the 2010-11 school year.
  • The room and board provisions in a full scholarship leave 85% of players living on campus and 86% of players living off campus living below the federal poverty line.
  • The fair market value of the average FBS football and basketball player was $120,048 and $265,027, respectively.
  • University of Texas football players’ fair market value was $513,922 but they lived $778 below the federal poverty line and had a $3,624 scholarship shortfall.
  • Duke basketball players were valued at $1,025,656 while living just $732 above the poverty line and a scholarship shortfall of $1,995.
  • The University of Florida had the highest combined football and basketball revenues while its football and basketball players’ scholarships left them living $2,250 below the federal poverty line and with a $3190 scholarship shortfall.


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