Turning Down Millions for a College Degree

You have to admire the decision of Andrew Luck, starting quarterback at Stanford University. He had a big decision to make – leave college early for a #1 NFL draft selection and a sure multi-million dollar contract (as in $30-$40 million), or return to school, finish his degree, and chance hurting his draft status next year.

Luck chose to return to school to finish his degree in architecture, and pursue a championship. I hope it works out for him. Not sure I’d do the same given the same choice, but I admire his decision.

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  1. Thanks for the link! I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that Luck’s father was an NFL quarterback and is now the athletic director at West Virginia. Plus, I’d bet he’s already insured for more than a few million against being injured next year. I have a feeling he’ll get his millions regardless.

  2. I’m sure he has a large insurance policy, so even if something terrible were to happen and he never made it to the NFL, he’d still be able to get lots of money.

    It looks like a $5 million policy costs about $30,000 per year.

    Obviously if something happened he’d be missing out on a ton of money. A good quarterback can make $30-$40 million in just a few years, and as the #1 pick, this would be his expectation.

    It’s nice to see him come back rather than follow the quick money.

  3. I think it’s a great decision on his part. It’s too bad more players don’t make the same decision. His future in the NFL isn’t guaranteed. He could get hurt or worse, and at least finishing his degree gives him a good option for a back up plan if the NFL doesn’t work out for whatever reason.

  4. I think his decision was stupid, at least from a financial stand point. His future in the NFL may not have been guaranteed, but that 30-40 million would have been. That’s more than enough to live on for the rest of his life and life a good life. He can always return to college at a later date to finish up his degree.

  5. I admire the decision as well, but I’m the same way in that I don’t know if I could make the same choice. I might take the guaranteed money and then finish school after my career was done.

  6. This is the kind of decision that you may regret later. I hope it works out for him. My children knew someone who passed up a scholarship to Stanford for the baseball draft. Their baseball career was over at age 30. Football careers can be much shorter.

  7. Thanks for the mention. It’s a great decision but he could have made and hopefully saved lots of money by going into the NFL early!

  8. Next season will start with a lockout and probably end up with a rookie salary cap. There won’t be any rookies getting 30-40 million next season. While to most of us this isn’t that big of a deal (the difference between 10 million and 30 million), it’s probably the most uncertain time in quite a while for college players to make this decision. Also like Matt Leinart, I’m pretty sure that Luck comes from a wealthy family and he is studying a field that will make some decent money. How many billionaires would trade places to be the star senior QB on a California campus in their 20s for 1 year??

  9. I’m so happy that Andrew Luck made the decision he did. Going to a football school with an academic reputation, similar to Stanford, it makes me sick to see these amazing football players come out of high school and get free rides to colleges that they later give up to go pro. For those of us who got into that same school for academic purposes and are paying the full freight, it’s frankly insulting that they do not finish their degree.

    Additionally, I don’t think his choice has as much to do with getting his degree as to getting a trophy. Money can’t buy a Heisman!

  10. My son in law just left the Marines. He was offered a GREAT job with a high school diploma. He wants to return to college.
    Our suggestion was that they save as much as they can. If the job ends, he can go back to complete his degree. I am not sure why this would not work for Luck. With 20 mil in the bank- I am sure that he could afford to finish his degree later if needed.
    The difference between the two young men is that Luck is a part of a team and the team itself would suffer if he left. My son in law has a family and they would suffer if he went back to college (even with his scholarship and allowance of $700. a month).
    I am not so sure a college degree is important in certain fields anymore. We have a number of them between the two of us and our son in law makes more than both of us combined.

  11. I think it was a poor decision. With that kind of money, even if he only plays a year or two, he would be financially secure for life (assuming he doesn’t do something stupid with his money). He could finish his degree after retiring from sports. Plus, he could use some of his money to establish scholarship programs for other students. Degrees are very important to me, but sometimes you just need to look at the big picture.

  12. I respect Andrew Luck’s decision. But it doesn’t seem very much out of character when you look at the school he chose to attend. Stanford is one of the most difficult schools to gain acceptance to in the U.S. and leaving without a degree (especially when it is completely funded by an athletic scholarship), would be a mistake. What happens if the NFL doesn’t work out? Andrew Luck staying in school is an insurance policy. I admire the decision, and endorse his choice of deferred compensation.

  13. Thanks for the link.

    The irony is that even when he graduates, chances are very high that he won’t work in architecture. It’s a noble act, but within a couple of years in the NFL he could probably buy almost any architecture firm he wanted and THEN finish his degree.

  14. I had a post on same exact topic, and my take there was that Luck made a poor decision. It may seem noble and pro-eduacation to choose the Stanford degree, and I realize that it’s one of the most prestigious, difficult to obtain degrees around. It’s in the conversation, at least, as being among the best universities in the world, and a degree from there can take someone a long way.

    That said, I think it’s worth totally dropping out entirely, and going from potential Stanford grad to a total dropout, if $50 million guaranteed is on the line. His stock won’t get any higher, it can only go down. Take the money and run! He could finish his degree later, and while it might not be Stanford, it will still be at a very good school that accepts his transfer credits.

  15. If I recall correctly, Peyton Manning did the same thing and it seemed to work out just fine for him. I think some of these players just enjoy the college environment and want savor that final year. I agree that Luck will get his millions regardless, and even if football doesn’t work out, he could find a career in architecture just as fulfilling. It might not make financial sense but it’s a personal choice that he has every right to make, just like the players who choose to leave early.