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Penn State Football Goes Back to Work: How Much Does Everyone Get Paid?

by on August 01, 2019 5:55 PM

Penn State football goes back to work on Friday.

It’s the first official day of summer camp.

It will be hard work, for sure.

But over the past three seasons, the pay-off has been big. So has the payday — for coaches, staffers and players alike.

Penn State football coaches and football support staff made a combined $18.5 million in salary, full benefits and bonuses in fiscal year 2018, based on numbers Penn State itself provided to the NCAA.

The breakdown: Franklin — $6.177 million. Ten full-time coaching assistants — $7.4 million. Football support staff — $4.3 million. Plus another $586,000 in bowl bonuses.

The players on scholarship do OK, too.

The average incoming Nittany Lion football freshman on scholarship from out-of-state could, over the course of the next four years, receive more than $300,000 in total compensation. That’s tuition, room and board, books, student fees, and tax-free cash by way of cost-of-attendance stipends and Pell Grant money.

In-state players get a package worth about $90,000 less, due to the higher tuition rates for non-PA students.

And we’re not even talking about medical care, apparel and other fringes. Cost-of-attendance allowances were instituted by the NCAA five years ago and is money paid to the athlete to help cover the cost of college, such as transportation, laundry, entertainment, personal care items, etc.

Those figures are also based on Penn State’s own numbers, from its Office of Student Aid website and the aforementioned annual report Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics submits each year to the NCAA. About Pell Grants: Last year, about one in three PSU football players received additional money via Pell Grants, a subsidy provided by the federal government that need not be repaid.

By the way, on behalf of its scholarshipped athletes, Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics pays the overall university for their tuition, room and board out of ICA coffers. Not all universities operate this way; some waive it, others provide a discount and/or charge only in-state rates.

WHAT THE ATHLETE IS OWED

Let me say this straight out: I am all for college athletes’ rights. It’s the subject of my upcoming masters’ thesis in the History & Philosophy of Sport through Penn State’s kinesiology department.

And it’s what I espouse in the “Introduction to the Sports Industry” course that I have taught at Penn State since 2012 — with hundreds of athletes from every PSU sports team in that time. This column will actually be the core of a lesson plan this fall.

When it comes to compensating college football players, these are my four core principles:

-- Compensation of full tuition, room and board, and cost of attendance.

-- Extended health care and educational expenses far beyond their initial four years and/or graduation

-- The ability to financially gain from the use of their personal likeness.

-- The ability to transfer, just like other students (I’m agreement here with Jim Harbaugh: one freebie, with immediate eligibility).

Beyond that, I think players’ compensation is good as it is. And in this case, I’m talking football…major college, Power 5, Penn State football.

If college football players get even more cash-money than what they do now, then what is an institution of higher ed really all about? (Hello, G League.) And what about Title IX? If you pay a college football player gobs of money, then don’t you have to do the same for fencing, field hockey and all the other sports?

Having said that, here’s look at the current overall compensation for those Penn State football players toiling on the practice field (and classroom):

PENNSYLVANIA PLAYERS

Profile: Freshman, four years at Penn State, three summers, marketing major in Smeal College of Business, from Pennsylvania.

Year 1 Compensation:

$23,065 -- Tuition, fees, information technology costs for fall, spring and one six-credit summer semester

$20,015 – Room, board, books

$6,300 – Payment: Cost of attendance allowance for fall, spring and one six-credit summer semester

$49,380  – Total

Plus Pell: Last year, 27 of Penn State’s 85 players received cash assistance through Pell Grants, with an average amount of $4,723 paid to each of those 27 players, according to Penn State’s report to the NCAA. That ups the first-year compensation level to just over $54,100.

Four Years: Allowing for a 1% increase in tuition and a 2% increase in room and board, over four years the total compensation for a Penn State football player from Pennsylvania — not counting Pell Grant money — will equal approximately $201,400. Add four years of Pell Grant payments and the four-year compensation total is just over $220,000. 

OUT-OF-STATE PLAYERS

Profile: Freshman, four years at Penn State, three summers, marketing major in Smeal College of Business, from out-of-state.

Year 1 Compensation:

$44,395 -- Tuition, fees, information technology costs for fall, spring and one six-credit summer semester

$20,015 – Room, board, books

$6,300 – Payment: Cost of attendance allowance for fall, spring and one six-credit summer semester

$70,710  – Total

Plus Pell: Last year, 27 of Penn State’s 85 players received cash assistance through Pell Grants, with an average amount of $4,723 paid to each of those 27 players, according to Penn State’s report to the NCAA. That ups the first-year compensation level to just over $75,400.

Four Years: Allowing for a 2% increase in tuition and a 2% increase in room and board, over four years the total compensation for a Penn State football player from out-of-state — not counting Pell Grant money — will equal approximately $291,000.

Add four years of Pell Grant payments and the four-year compensation total is just over $310,000. That’s about $100,000 more than the $212,000 figure the first time I did this math in 2010.



Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for StateCollege.com since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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