The Real Cost of March Madness

By Ben Steverman, with Eben Novy-Williams and Seth Magalaner - 2012-03-21T23:12:14Z

Photograph by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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The Players

Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars the games bring in, college ballplayers' only compensation is free education. Granted, this is nothing to sneeze at, since four years at a school like Duke costs around $228,000. A 2010 analysis by the National College Players Association put the "fair market value" of a basketball player in a top men's program at $265,027 per year. The group alleges that many players live in poverty because of a gap between their annual costs and their scholarships -- a gap that averaged $3,222 in the 2010-2011 school year. NCAA President Mark Emmert is pushing to permit a $2,000 increase in scholarship allowances.

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