NCAA cost Duke basketball players $1.3 million last season

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Duke basketball guard Cassius Stanley (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

A dumb rule made some Duke basketball stars leave six figures on the table.

Tsk tsk. Shame on the NCAA for still not allowing current student-athletes to enjoy the same inherent financial liberties as literally every single non-athlete on every single campus across this country. And simply nixing the rule that prohibits Duke basketball players and their counterparts from profiting off their name, image, and likeness (NIL) — likely not to go into effect until the 2021-22 school year — is simply not enough.

Why? Because there should have been a rule — no, a law — to prevent such an inexcusably asinine rule from ever existing. And such legislation should have been in existence before James Naismith thought to erect a peach basket.

Nevertheless, bank on this: the NCAA won't do the right thing by offering restitution down the road to Zion Williamson and all the others who either have already played in college or will do so next season.

Heck, with one glance at some findings that came out this week, any fair-minded soul would say the NCAA owes no less than a combined $1 million in restitution to 2019-20 Blue Devils Cassius Stanley, Vernon Carey Jr., Matthew Hurt, Wendell Moore, Tre Jones, Joey Baker, Jordan Goldwire, Alex O'Connell, Mike Buckmire, Javin DeLaurier, Jack White, Justin Robinson, Michael Savarino, and Keenan Worthington.

ALSO READ: Ranking all 40 Duke teams under Mike Krzyzewski

Actually, the amount the Dukies should have together reaped from social media alone is $1.3 million, per the recent study by INFLCR, "a high-tech platform for sports teams to store, track, and deliver content to their athletes, who can grow their own brands by sharing that content to their social media platforms just from social media."

Here's how the researchers came upon that figure:

"INFLCR’s NIL team, led by former ESPN and Dallas Cowboys content leader and INFLCR COO Neeta Sreekanth, created a multi-dimensional formula to assess athletes’ per-post value for branded content on social media...INFLCR’s formula takes into account a variety of factors beyond followers on social media, such as team performance, sport played, and the size of the conference..."

Tim Stephens, who penned the study's synopsis, continued:

"Combining INFLCR’s approach with the methodology established by INFLCR partner Athletic Director University (ADU) and Navigate Research that valued each Instagram follower at $0.80, the NIL team also reviewed the potential annual advertising value for INFLCR partner Duke University, specifically the members of the 2019-20 Duke men’s basketball team."

The shoulda-been net worth of the 2019-20 Duke basketball players

Stephens then offered a detailed account of the findings:

"At the top, a star athlete such as freshman All-American Cassius Stanley, with a following of more than 513,000 on Instagram, had an estimated annual value on the platform of $410,720. This represents an audience that could command more than $15,000 per post, according to INFLCR’s formula, and would rank among the top five athletes in the NCAA, according to ADU."

As for the other Duke basketball players last season:

"ACC Player of the Year Tre Jones, with more than 385,000 combined followers across Instagram and Twitter, has an audience valued at more than $308,000. At the bottom, a player having as few as 14,000 followers (but playing at a very high level in a big conference) could potentially command a rate of more than $400 per post on Instagram..."

Finally, Stephens offered a look at the whole:

"The 14 players on the Duke roster had a combined Instagram following of 1,545,400 (tops in college basketball), an audience estimated at more than $1.2 million in annual advertising value. The same players had a combined audience of 175,000 on Twitter, representing a cumulative audience value of more than $139,000. Collectively, this represents more than $1.3 million in value that could have been available to student-athletes on the Duke basketball team."

In other words, it's time for the NCAA to quit with the neener-neener nonsense and expedite the process to flush the NIL ban, pronto. Then, at the very least, NCAA money-raker Mark Emmert, along with the fat-wallet presidents of the member institutions, should issue a sincere apology to Cassius & Co. — not to mention the Zion & Co. predecessor — for costing the talented dudes so much friggin' cash.

Meanwhile, the creative director for the Duke basketball program, David Bradley, hinted to INFLCR what the new landscape may look like (you know, as soon as the NCAA finally gets its you-know-what out of its you-know-what and actually takes the kind of action that actually results in actual current student-athletes actually seeing money flow into their bank accounts with taxes from the government being the only penalty):

“For 95 percent of college athletes, their college careers will be the best time to grow and leverage their personal brands. Unless America knows you on a first-name basis like Zion or Kyrie, fan affinity and networking opportunity peaks in college. Therefore, it’s crucial for athletes to understand and maximize their brands from day one — and the best way to do this is through social media."

Bradley then wrapped up his thoughts on the matter:

"The potential changes coming to allow athletes a greater ability to capitalize on their name, image, and likeness would only amplify the incredible importance of social media to a college athlete in any sport. Not just the Duke player with a bigger following than 75% of NBA guys.”

Aha, so the NCAA is indeed keeping everyone but its beneficiaries — you know, coaching staffs, various personnel, and those folks who suit up only for the board meetings that serve to spin new ways to put off until tomorrow what should have been done yesterday — from all the possible cold, hard cash that the actual playing of the game yields.

OK, the best time to begin allowing Duke basketball players to cash in was back in 1906. Since that didn't happen, the only other acceptable time to begin allowing Duke basketball players to cash in is right now. Therefore, it's time for those who get paid to serve the NCAA to, at long last, get to work by finally finalizing what would be their most important work.

Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more news and views regarding all things Duke basketball.