Review of Industrial Organization

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 211–229 | Cite as

Athlete Pay and Competitive Balance in College Athletics

  • Brian Mills
  • Jason WinfreeEmail author


In this paper we analyze the argument—which has been used by both the National Labor Relations Board and the National Collegiate Athletic Association—that unionization and/or player pay will hurt competitive balance in college sports. We present a theoretical analysis of universities that recruit athletes and examine the assumptions that are needed for player compensation to decrease competitive balance. We also empirically illustrate the differences in balance between professional and college sports. Given the theoretical and empirical analysis, we argue that unionization and/or player pay is unlikely to hurt competitive balance.


College athletics Competitive balance Player pay 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management, College of Health and Human PerformanceUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, College of Agricultural and Life SciencesUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA

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