Alabama Football: The $$$ value of 5-Star players to college programs

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Rarely a day goes by without a report tying money and big-time college athletics. Alabama football is often mentioned. Consider recent data projections.

Talking about dollars made and lost in college sports is all the rage. The Alabama football program is no exception. Greg Byrne and every other SEC Athletic Director potentially face millions of dollars in fall season losses. The greatest assurance the virus will not derail the next season is an economic argument. Many college athletic programs cannot survive without it.

Perhaps there will be financial pain. Some coaching staffs have already incurred furloughs and salary cuts. Delaying fall competition, even starting on time, with fewer games, could be financially devastating. Alabama football has no worry about survival. Outside Power Five conferences, there is less assurance against financial collapse.

The opening two paragraphs in this post may overstate the financial risk to all but a few college programs. The SEC is almost guaranteed to find a way to play. In a best-case scenario, the virus so whithers over the summer, near-normal, fan attendance will occur.

There are a couple of other big-dollars and college sports stories. Generally, they can be described as ‘feel-good’ stories. Beginning in the 2021-22 academic year, college athletes will be allowed compensation from their personal brands.

How much will college athletes earn? It will vary greatly, largely driven by the profile of each athlete’s sports program. Personal appearances will likely be one category, including, but not limited to autograph signings. Potentially, greater money will be generated through the athlete’s personal brand, marketed digitally through social media.

So far, estimates for income generated, across an entire roster are thousands of dollars. A roster average will be higher, maybe a few, tens of thousand dollars. Yahoo Sports asked expert, Blake Lawrence, whose company helps athletes maximize their marketing value. Lawrence threw out some big numbers for elite college football players ranging from $500K to $1M. For a sure, one-and-done basketball player in a major program, Lawrence estimated up to $2M.

A recent study, conducted by an Economics professor at Ohio State, measured the $$$ accruing to college programs from their elite players. According to the study’s author, Trevor Logan, 5-Star and 4-Star football signees generate considerable dollars for their programs. Logan projected that number is up to $650K from 5-Star players. Check these other projections by Logan.

"Four-star recruits generated about $350,000 a year and three-star recruits increased revenue by about $150,000, while two-star recruits actually reduced revenue by about $13,000 a year for college football programs"

There is so much money surrounding big-time college sports. Spreading it around to players is only fair. How to best do it is unclear. An unnamed “industry source” in the Yahoo story said,

"It’s a whole new world. The law of unintended consequences of this is that you’re making boosters legal. If you’re the CEO of a company that makes a ton of money, you can figure out a way to legally pay a kid."

In summary, massive risk of lost dollars caused by the virus; at least for some, some pretty big dollars will be earned by players; schools will continue to make big dollars from their elite players; underlaid by an inability for the NCAA to control cheating.

Next. Crimson Tide the '20 Big-Dog in Top Talent. dark

There are more troubling concerns than solutions. One thing is clear – amateurism at the big-time, college athletics level, is an anachronism.