Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Economics



Major Advisor

Kelly Chen, Ph.D.


Christine Loucks, Ph.D.


Michail Fragkias, Ph.D.


Allen Dalton, M.A.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


College football prospects in the market for an athletic scholarship face similar career-altering choices as traditional academic students when selecting a college, however, the market they operate in is very different. They are actively recruited by university coaches and closely observed by a college sports scouting industry. Their choice of school is highly anticipated and publicized within college sport culture. College football is no doubt a lucrative industry, particularly for the elite university football programs, but one may want to know if the athletic scholars themselves gain in any career measurable way by attending a more elite university football program. This analysis uses the scouting and coaches screening information to form a baseline control for pre-college ability and then estimates the value-added from choosing a more selective football program by measuring 3 observable football oriented career outcomes: 1) the probability of receiving an invite to the NFL Combine, 2) an objective metric for strength and conditioning, and 3) a player's overall order from the NFL draft. Evidence shows that recruits who choose a more selective university football program have a higher probability of receiving an invite to the NFL Combine. However, once at the Combine, there is no evidence that more selective university football programs produce better athletes based upon standardized strength and conditioning tests. Evidence also suggests that NFL employers utilize the objective information they gain at the NFL Combine in their draft decisions, in which case, the premium enjoyed from the initial Combine invite is attenuated. If NFL teams update the information obtained from the Combine into their draft decisions, then there is no evidence attending a more selective football program generates value-added to a recruit’s ability and thus, their post-college career. Additionally, there is suggestive evidence that highly sought after football recruits are made worse off by the recruiting process in general, holding objective measures of ability constant.