The Value of an Alabama Football Player is an Astonishing $453,000
Business Insider published a chart on Tuesday to show the value of football players in the 25 programs that generated the most revenue in 2012. According to the data, Alabama players are worth an estimated $453,000, third behind Texas ($578,000) and Michigan ($470,000).
You're probably wondering how that number got calculated. Well, it's based on the way the NFL distributes its revenue. From the article:
Using the NFL's most recent collective bargaining agreement in which the players receive a minimum of 47% of all revenue, we then divided that value by the 85 scholarship players.
At this point, the NCAA only allows schools to pay for tuition with some negligible benefits sprinkled in. In 2010-11, The University of Alabama spent $3.1 million on scholarships for the student-athletes. Now, consider that total football revenue was $81.9 million in 2012. That means that the school spent approximately 4% of its revenue on each scholarship football player.
The discrepancy between perceived value and actual money spent increases with the prestige of a football program, but that's a problem that begins with the NCAA. Schools are doing what they are allowed, but for programs in the chart below, it's impossible to say that players are compensated fairly.