$2 Million in Annual Income Needed to Pay for Yearly Value of Duke Basketball Scholarship

April 4th, 2018 | by Jonathan Yates
$2 Million in Annual Income Needed to Pay for Yearly Value of Duke Basketball Scholarship


Millions of families around the world are spending billions annually in hopes of their children receiving an athletic scholarship for college in the United States

This is easily understandable as there is no better deal in history for a teenager than an American college athletic scholarship as it would require about $2 million in annual income to pay for the benefits received at Duke University as a basketball player every year, as just one example.

Student-athletes at American institutions of higher learning are treated better than ever.  Former NBA player Len Elmore notes that the players receive “extraordinary benefits.”  The benefits received from an athletic scholarship can be separated into “hard dollar” and “soft dollar” components.  Hard dollars are the tuition, room, and book costs.  Soft dollar spending is for coaches, travel, and other items.  Many times the soft dollar benefits are worth much more than the hard dollar.

That is especially true for Duke University, and many other schools.

Tuition at Duke University is right around $55,000.00.  Count on it rising every year.  Duke puts the yearly cost of attendance at around $75,000.00.  You can bet on that going up too as it has skyrocketed in the past.

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski makes about $9 million a year.

There are five other members of the Duke coaching staff.  That easily takes the cost of coaching the basketball team into eight figures annually.  So the 14 players on Duke’s basketball team receive well over $700,000.00 each in coaching services yearly.

This is actually a bargain as Coach K charges $50,000.00 to $100,000.00 to come talk to an organization once for about 30 minutes!

If practice is three hours daily, that’s a couple hundred thousand in lost speaking fees for Coach K!  Nothing about the time of one of the best college coaches in history is cheap, to be sure.  That is why the value of a basketball scholarship to Duke and many other schools is rich indeed!

Along with the coaching services come other soft dollar benefits such as travel, branding, career access, and others.

Travel is a huge benefit for a player at a school like Duke, and many others.  The football team at Rice played in the Sydney Bowl in Australia this year.  Recently, the basketball team at Iowa State traveled to Spain to play.  Domestically, the trips are just as rewarding: Vanderbilt sent its athletes to Washinton, DC to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture for Martin Luther King’s birthday.  Duke recently spent a week playing in the Dominican Republic.  That doesn’t count trips during the regular season to New York City, Miami, and other prime sports.

Those trips highlight the success of the school and the players, which is otherwise known as “branding.”

In a study for the University of Wyoming, it was estimated that the branding value for the football team was $46 million in just one year.  That comes in at around $500,000.00 a player.  The value of the branding received by a Duke basketball player is much, much higher for many, many reasons.  Duke plays in a bigger media market with more staff focused on branding.  It is on television more for lots more games.  Every year it is in the high profile ACC Tournament and then “March Madness.”  Twelve times Duke has played in The Final Four under Coach K.  UMBC received an estimated $120 million in free publicity for one game.  Imagine the value of 12 Final Four trips for the players!

This branding makes Duke players valuable in the workforce.

Duke players are looked upon as intelligent, hard-working, and accomplished student-athletes.  Who wouldn’t want that person as an employee?  Coach K sure does as all five on his staff are Duke graduates.  Pitt just hired Jeff Capel III, Duke alum both playing and coaching, to turn its hoops program around!

With so much talent, it is no wonder that so much is spent to benefit the Duke players

To provide these package requires more than $1 million in spending per Blue Devil player.  Don’t get excited just yet and fire up to the fondue and start cubing cheese as this is after tax dollar spending!  More than $2 million in income would be needed after accounting for income, state, local, sales, property, et al taxes.  That is annually too, not over the five-year-term of a scholarship

These costs will continue to rise.

Jay Williams, the former Duke guard, has been functioning in the capacity of a parallel universe Sister Jean, calling for players to sit out March Madness to protest that scholarships have remained “flat” in value.  That is a unique perspective, especially since he played in tournament games when student-athletes were not treated nearly as well.  It is also wrong, as the value of a scholarship continues to soar.  There was even an NPR special about how much the costs of Duke have risen for regular students

It’s not just student-athletes at expensive private schools like Duke benefiting from lavish benefits packages measured in six- and seven-figure annual spending.

A three-part series of mine for The Gazette detailed how those at Iowa public universities received benefits from scholarships well into six figures.  Many guests on my show, “The Culture of Sports,” have pointed out how well student-athletes are treated in both hard dollar and soft dollar spending.  Enumerated are proven coaches, dedicated staff, nutrition, counseling, travel, branding, et al  Those benefits cost money and at Duke, it goes well into seven figures each year per player!

Jonathan Yates About Jonathan Yates
Jonathan Yates spent much of his career working for Members of Congress in a variety of press and legislative posts. Positions he has held working for Members of Congress and state legislators include Chief of Staff, General Counsel, Legislative Director, Press Secretary, and Legislative Assistant. His journalistic work has appeared in such periodicals as The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Investor's Business Daily, and TheStreet, among others. He has degrees from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Georgetown University Law Center; and has also matriculated at the U.S. Naval War College and The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Jonathan also hosts The Culture of Sports You can follow Jonathan Yates on Twitter at @politicsports13

Comments are closed.

The nightcap
The Day's College Athletics News
To Your Inbox Tonight.