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Kentucky basketball players are worth more than $820 thousand


Kentucky fans know firsthand just how valuable elite players can be. After going back-to-back seasons suffering a roller coaster of emotions, it comes without saying that the players with the most value equal wins. Kentucky went from the best team in basketball and hoisting a new banner in Rupp Arena in 2012, to an off-season of shaming, thanks to a first-round NIT loss the following season.

Valuable players are hard to come by… Well, maybe not so much for John Calipari. But this season may be the most valuable of them all. Time Magazine writer Sean Gregory had an idea to apply the business model in the NBA where the collective bargaining agreement provides 50 percent of the revenue generated by the league, and he applied it to college sports. He used Syracuse University as an example, and calculated Orange star C.J. Fair is worth close to $1 million to his team.

Finding how much Kentucky players are worth is easy by simply applying the same formula.

Last season Kentucky men’s basketball reported a revenue of $21,598,680. Take 50 percent of that and divide it by 13, the number of scholarships offered on an NCAA basketball team, and then subtract $10,200 for the University of Kentucky’s current room and board.

What do you get? Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Julius Randle, Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, and each individual member of the Wildcats on scholarship are worth $820,518 a piece.

Consider this money doesn’t even include potential endorsement deals, which a number of the current Kentucky players would surely have if it were legal, and that bonuses for being star players versus the last guy off the bench would bump the total as well.

It is simple, but it demonstrates just how far the NCAA has to come to allow college athletes to get paid. These guys are worth a lot of money, and surely dividing the cash out to the estimated 420,000 Division-I college athletes will take a hit on Mark Emmert’s pocket book.

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

13 Comments for Kentucky basketball players are worth more than $820 thousand

  1. Musehobo
    4:37 pm September 20, 2013 Permalink

    I know there are a few other things that the players get that won’t be listed, like their per diem. Yes, that’s right purists, these players, like everyone else do get a small amount already. But it’s not enough to even remotely dent that revenue. Go Cats!

  2. Dirk's Diggler
    4:57 pm September 20, 2013 Permalink

    The problem with paying basketball and football players is that Title 9 will require you to pay ALL other athletes the same amount of money. That means softball, tennis, golf, field hockey, gymnastics and all the other sports that lose money.

  3. Picky picky
    5:10 pm September 20, 2013 Permalink

    You sure you meant to subtract just $10,200 in your calculation? You called that “room and board”, but I think $10,200 is tuition only. Not only that, isn’t out of state tuition over $20,000? Most of our team is from out of state.

  4. Bobbysueflay
    5:18 pm September 20, 2013 Permalink

    So what’s your point stewy? That has always been the rule? It’s not like they just changed it last year. Like number 2 said. So are universities suppose to start signing contracts or something or give each player the same? If they got paid it wouldn’t work out and basically ruin college sports. Quit trying to ster a pot when theres a empty pan

  5. CountingInches
    5:37 pm September 20, 2013 Permalink

    How tall is Derek Willis?! He looks bigger than I remember. He looks to be at least 6’9″ or 6’10”.

  6. schwing
    6:33 pm September 20, 2013 Permalink

    but they get a free college education right? right, which costs the university exactly 0$. and that was a zero, folks, not a capital o.

  7. actually schwing
    8:21 pm September 20, 2013 Permalink

    Does it cost the university “zero” to allow an extra 13 basketball players, 12 vball players, 85 football players (and so on thru the rosters), to go to school for free. Well, it isn’t actually zero, though it is a very soft cost. Scholarship athletes are a very minute percentage of the student body. That said, schools write it up as a hard cost. (Athletics paying the money to other departments.) Honestly, I think this is just a way to make it look like Athletics departments are poorer than they are. (Gives them better reason to continue asking for more money.)

    You can focus on the “they get to go to school free, they should be happy.” No where else in the world does this argument make sense. Why does it make sense for college athletes. If you drive one million dollars in sales for your company, and they reward you with a $100k salary…I bet you’d be pretty pissed at the lazy sales guy sitting next to you (and your company), if he drove $200k in sales and made the dame amount as you. You’d be furious.

    This system takes the football and basketball players who drive tens of millions of dollars in revenue, and spreads it across the Rifle and Swimming/Diving teams even though they dont generate a single dollar. No where else in the world does this make sense. (Maybe one could argue the tenure system in teaching is similar. After you’ve made tenure, you have additional protections to be a piece of crap at your job and still make as much as the teacher in the room next to you, the one that it busting their butt to be good. I think most people agree that the tenure system stinks and doesnt properly award teachers that put in an effort to be good.)

    I understand title 9, but changes need to be made to it. There is significantly more money in college athletics, exponentially, compared to early 1970s.

  8. The Calculator
    9:15 pm September 20, 2013 Permalink

    But that revenue doesn’t account for the coaches salaries (The players don’t do it all by themselves), the trainers, chef, payments on rupp arena, practice gym, tutors, food that they feed them and everything else….once you truly break it down the players are each worth around $150,000. These players receive enough per diem to cover them for a month with free housing and food. They receive around a $1,000 a month in per diem. They also don’t have to purchase many clothes since they receive those as well. Truly athletes don’t need to be paid in college. They live a better life then every other college student.

  9. PhilUK18
    11:17 pm September 20, 2013 Permalink

    Allow the kids to make money off of their names and images, and take away restrictions on getting jobs off campus that are in place now. That way, Title IX is neatly avoided, the school athletic departments (who can’t afford it, as they almost all lose money annually) don’t have to make payments, and it’s truly a free market. Julius Randle can make $8,000 (for example), selling autographs and make whatever amount doing appearances and sponsorship work. If the golfers, volleyball players, or whoever else can’t make the same money for the same things then they could either a) get better and more marketable or b) get a job if they need one. Of course that’s too logical a solution for the crooked NCAA to allow, unless they end up losing the Ed O’Bannon class action suit over image rights.

  10. Hey Chongo
    12:50 am September 21, 2013 Permalink

    The phrase is “it goes without saying”

  11. Well
    8:34 am September 21, 2013 Permalink

    Now when we talk about revenues, I believe we are talking about all of the money that is generated BEFORE expenses are taken out. Basketball with all of the traveling and the number of games is a relatively expensive sport. Now take your original total and subtract the whole coaching staffs, trainers, food, board, scholarships, uniforms, sweet spirit packs, the paying of teams in Exhibition and non-conference games, etc. and I would venture to say that UK Basketball, lost money.

  12. Rick Thomas
    10:28 am September 21, 2013 Permalink

    This is silly….your calculations assume that if the playe named weren’t at UK the revenue would be zero…

  13. Megan
    11:54 am September 21, 2013 Permalink

    This is silly indeed. I believe 90 percent of all athletics programs lose money, even with subsidies. Yes, they generate revenue, like the $21.6 million by UK’s men’s basketball team, but as noted above, that money goes many other places to pay expenses, including to all the non-revenue generating sports.

    I don’t know why we’ve recently become fascinated with the idea of paying college players. But we should limit that discussion to corporate sponsorships or allowing players to profit off their names and images, both of which will enrich the fewest, most popular athletes (sorry, no one’s going to sponsor that left guard). Let’s not confuse the issue with how much revenue a particular college team generated last year. That’s grossly misleading. As a rule, colleges simply can’t afford to pay their players much more than they already do.