To be sure, the proper role of "big-time" athletic programs in a college environment is both contested and complex (to say nothing of Title IX exposure). As BCS college presidents contemplate formalizing a "playoff" system for D1 football, those who deny the vast economic implications blink at reality. While these "economic implications" persist as the subject of debate, however, many of the debates take place without the benefit of data. A recent paper by Leo H. Kahane (Providence College--Economics), The Estimated Rents of a Top-Flight Men’s College Hockey Player, brings much-needed data (and analysis) to this debate, at least as it relates to the economic impact of "top-flight" D1 college hockey players.
While the paper side-steps critical accounting assumptions, Kahane exploits a panel data set (2005--2008) involving teams in the top four NCAA D1 college hockey conferences. While revenue generated among the colleges differ "substantially," the paper concludes that:
"Empirical results show that top-flight college hockey players generate between $131 and $165 thousand in added revenues to schools. According to the NCAA the average value of an athletic scholarship is between $14 thousand (for in-state public schools) to $32 thousand (private schools) in 2008. This implies that a premium college hockey player generates rents in excess of $100 thousand per year for the typical institution."