Professional sports is an extremely lucrative career, and countless athletes have become wildly successful from early ages in football, basketball, baseball, and hockey. Since 2011, major sports leagues (the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA) have
Professional sports is an extremely lucrative career, and countless athletes have become wildly successful from early ages in football, basketball, baseball, and hockey. Since 2011, major sports leagues (the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA) have employed thousands of players and paid out tens of billions of dollars to these talented athletes. For perspective, the NFL paid $47.3 billion to its 2,883 players from 2011-2020.
That’s certainly a lot of money and a lot of players. But considering that these athletes all come from successful college careers, which schools have historically produced the highest-earning athletes? Lines.com conducted a study to find out just that, and they broke it down by the four major sports.
The Best Schools Overall
Broken down by average athlete earnings (with a minimum of 10 athletes attending) over the past decade (2011-2020), Marquette University in Wisconsin seems to have produced the most successful professional athletes overall—with the school’s athletes combined average earnings being $35.4 million. The University of Connecticut comes in second with $26.7 million, followed by the University of Pittsburgh with $25.1 million, Wake Forest University with $25 million, and Georgia Tech with $24.2 million. The school that produced the least amount of successful athletes by average earnings over the past decade is Villanova University ($21.6 million).
When the data was analyzed by conference, the Big East conference produced the most successful athletes by average earnings ($22.8 million). That conference was followed by the Pac-12 conference ($17.9 million), ASUN ($17.5 million), ACC ($16.4 million), and Big 12 ($15.9 million).
In breaking down successful athletes in the NFL by the school they attended (with a minimum of 10 athletes attending each school), the University of Pittsburgh came out on top with average earnings of $30.6 million. The University of California, Berkeley came in right behind with $28.8 million, followed by Boston College ($25.9 million), Purdue University ($24.3 million), Virginia Tech ($22.1 million), the University of Kentucky ($22.1 million), and the University of Southern California ($21.4 million). The school with the lowest average athlete earnings was NC State University ($20.5 million).
However, NC State University might have fared worse with overall earnings but they did end up in the top three schools by average quarterback earnings over the last 10 years. Boston College landed at number one with $119.92 million, NC State came in second with $106.98 million, and the University of California at Berkeley came in third with $106.96 million.
Basketball and Baseball
The Lines.com study showed that when it comes to the NBA, several universities have produced some seriously high-earning athletes. The University of Texas, Austin was the top school by average athlete earnings over the last decade ($47.8 million), followed by the University of Southern California ($47.6 million), the University of Florida ($47.3 million), the University of California, Los Angeles ($36.7 million), the University of Connecticut ($36.2 million), and Marquette University ($35.4 million), among others. The lowest-earning school was Duke University ($26.8 million).
On the MLB side of the coin, the University of Miami proved to be the school with the highest average earnings of its graduates that are professional baseball players ($23 million). Following behind them were the University of Missouri ($22.7 million), CSU Long Beach ($21.4 million), the University of Notre Dame ($21.1 million), and Arizona State University ($20.4 million), among others. The lowest-earning school was the University of Nebraska, Lincoln ($16.2 million).
There’s a lot of money to be made in professional sports, and if the study is any indication, some schools have better track records than others when it comes to producing high-earning players.