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Student-Athlete Compensation from a Former Student-Athlete

With the recent flurry of lawsuits happening, a former Texas Tech student athlete approached VTM about how he felt he was being compensated.

This is not ttuvault615.
This is not ttuvault615.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Right before signing day, a handful of Northwestern players filed paperwork to begin to explore the concept of an athlete union. What immediately sparked conversation in the comments was the thought that this was a pay for play situation in that the student-athletes were requesting additional funds for school, i.e. a pay for play scenario, where they could receive additional funds due to the monies that these student-athletes made as a result of their play on the field our court.

The idea of whether or not the stipend is sufficient for student-athletes is something that should be considered, just as much as some of the other ideas presented by the athlete union. We asked ttuvault615, who pole vaulted while at Texas Tech, to assist with some aspects that we, as non-athletes (at least in our minds) and to give us an idea as to what some of these student-athletes are facing during their time in college and after these student-athletes receive their diploma.

Now, there is a new lawsuit that isn't necessarily about player compensation, but about a free market for student athletes (via ESPN and SI). I had didn't have the time to properly format the post with NSD coming close, but shortly thereafter, I was ready to go. Up until this week, it seemed that maybe this debate was largely forgotten.

One other aside, which is that I was able to meet up with ttuvault615 at the Dallas recruiting review and we talked about his article. I think that his stance on this particular issue, which is that players are well compensated is not necessarily a stance that everything about being a student-athlete is perfect. ttuvault615 mentioned a surgery that he is likely to need at some point in his life, a direct result of his time at Texas Tech. I suppose that this is what we hope this series is about, which is the pros and cons of being a student athlete and how things can be improved.

The following is from ttuvalut615: There’s been much debate on whether or not college athletes should be paid and whether or not they are being fairly compensated for their time. Kevinkinsler came up with the idea of taking a closer look so I decided to put a pen to paper on the issue. As some of you know, I ran track at Tech, so I am taking a look at this using my experience with track and field. Football obviously will have some differences but title 9 has ensured that the rules are similar across all sports, so the numbers should be fairly close. Ok let’s get to it.

First let’s look at the monetary benefits of a scholarship. The following numbers were taken from the Texas Tech website and are estimates:

Tuition per year = $8,956
Books/Supplies = 1,200
Off-campus stipend = 9,000
Total = 19,156

This is a rough estimate of what a scholarship would provide for a student athlete as well as 9 months of room and board stipend at $1000 per month. When I was in school from 02-07, full ride athletes received about $950/month so I assumed that they receive around $1000 now. It very well could be more but we will assume $1000/month for ease of calculation. The total comes to $19,156 per year.

The NCAA sets per diem (money each day for food while traveling to competitions) limits as follows:

Breakfast = $8.00
Lunch = 12.00
Dinner = 15.00
Total - $35/day

Now let’s take a look at the workload of a track athlete throughout the year. During September and October, the NCAA mandated that we were allowed 8 hours/wk of practice. November and December we were allowed 20 hrs/week. In season workouts from January-May, we were allowed another 8 hours/week. For ease of calculation I assumed 4 weeks/month. The track schedule for this season has 16 total meets. I didn’t include Regional and National meets because not every athlete qualifies for those. 14 of the meets are away and 2 are home meets. So the total hours spent in practice and competition are as follows:

September-October: 8 hrs/wk = 64 hrs
November-December 20 hrs/wk = 160 hrs
Jan-May 8 hrs/wk = 160 hrs
16 competitions at 2 hours each = 34
Total = 418 hours

Some people may argue that we should include the travel time of the away meets because it inhibits the athletes from being able to have jobs. If we include this travel time the numbers would look like this:

14 competitions at 48 hours each (with an additional 48 hours for Big 12 Champs) = 720 hours

So now we simply divide total money provided to the athlete per year divided by total amount of hours worked:

Total cash value received per year $20,066 / Total hrs worked (without travel time included) 418 hours = $48.00 per hour.

Total cash value received per year $20,066/ Total hours worked (including travel time) 1,138 hours = $17.60 per hour

Lastly, some would argue that we should include time in the training room dealing with injuries, rehab and such. This is a somewhat arbitrary number but let’s say 2 hours per week for 9 months, or 36 weeks:

2hrs * 36 week = 72 hours

72 hours + 1,138 hrs = 1,210 hrs

Thus, the total cash value received per year is $20,066 / total hours worked (including travel time and training room time) 1,210 hours = $16.58 per hour.

So as we can see, this isn’t a bad living, especially for a college kid. Obviously this includes some estimations and there are going to be some variations from sport to sport, but this should be in the ballpark for most student athletes. What say you VTM?