Pay for Play: The Financial Value of NCAA Football Players

31 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2016 Last revised: 1 May 2017

Date Written: August 17, 2016


We explore the financial value of NCAA football recruits and establish a wage schedule based on the star ratings assigned to high school athletes by an independent talent evaluation agency. Evidence suggests that the contribution of higher-ranking recruits to team wins significantly increases revenues. While the NCAA currently prohibits universities from paying student-athletes, we estimate that if amateurism rules were rescinded and college football players were compensated according to their revenue-generating abilities then five-, four-, three-, and low-star players would be entitled to annual salaries of $799,000, $361,000, $29,000, and $21,000, respectively, in addition to athletic scholarships covering tuition, books, and room and board.

Suggested Citation

Borghesi, Richard, Pay for Play: The Financial Value of NCAA Football Players (August 17, 2016). Applied Economics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Richard Borghesi (Contact Author)

University of South Florida ( email )

4202 E Fowler Ave
Tampa, FL 33620
United States
941-359-4524 (Phone)
941-359-4367 (Fax)


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