David Berri

Department Chair and Professor of Economics

  • Department of Economics and Finance

Specializing in evaluations of players and coaches in sports, gender issues in sports, and competitive balance in sports



Dr. David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University. He has spent the last two decades researching sports and economics, while publishing works on a variety of topics including the evaluation of players and coaches, competitive balance, the drafting of players, labor disputes, the NCAA, and gender issues in sports.

Dr. Berri was the lead author of "The Wages of Wins and Stumbling on Wins" and recently published "Sports Economics", a textbook from Macmillan Publishers. In the past, he has written on the subject of sports economics for a number of popular media outlets, including the New York Times, the Atlantic.com, Time.com, and Vice Sports. Currently, Dr. Berri is writing for Forbes.com.

Dr. Berri graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a bachelor of arts in economics and earned both his master of arts and Ph.D. in economics from Colorado State University.


2 min

Sports Economics Textbook by SUU Professor Receives New Recognition

College is a place where discovery is always on the horizon. There are always new classes and careers in this changing world, and Southern Utah University is dedicated to helping students prepare for their future careers. Reading assigned text is the easiest and most common way to attain success. Textbooks are written by professionals in the field and can provide lots of insight and information to lead students to academic success and enrichment beyond the classroom. Dr. David Berri is an economics professor at SUU and has recently received renewed recognition for his writings in the 2018 publication of the Sports Economics textbook released by Macmillan, one of the most prominent names in academic publishing. Dr. Berri specializes in sports economics, having spent over two decades researching competitive balance, gender issues in sports, the NCAA, drafting labor, evaluating player and coach performance, and much more. He was also the lead author on two other books; The Wages of Wins (2006) and Stumbling on Wins (2010). Along with teaching, Dr. Berri has continued his writings focusing on sports economics for several prestigious websites, including, but not limited to the New York Times, Atlantic.com, Time.com, Vice Sports, and currently Forbes.com. “This new recognition is great,” Dr. Berri stated. “This textbook took me six years to write and now over 60 schools have implemented it into their curriculum.” Currently, Dr. Berri is working on a couple of new academic textbooks for subjects within his sphere of expertise. “I’m working on two more textbooks at the moment. One is centered around women in sports, and isn’t quite finished yet. The other is set to publish soon, and it’s about economics and popular films.”Dr. Berri is familiar with the media and is available for an interview.

David Berri

2 min

Nostalgia for University Traditions Increases Alumni Donations

“Something that’s really bizarre about American education is that a lot of the alumni connection to their university is through their sports teams,” said Dr. David Berri, professor of economics at Southern Utah University. “It’s supposed to be an educational institution, not a sports team. So it’s really bizarre that you take away the sports and you take away the alumni connection.”This rings true for Paul Marino, CC ’74, a former member of the baseball and football teams. Before the pandemic, Marino bought tickets to attend Columbia men’s basketball games as a way to support the University—something he has been doing for almost 50 years since his graduation.“I played football here and we had some tough years,” Marino said in an interview back in February. “It sounds corny, but it is my alma mater and I like to support the school in any way I can.”Berri noted that for many students, the connection to a university stems from a football team rather than the academics. First-year students often have little face-to-face interaction with professors in their introductory classes. While students may be one of thousands in the stands, positive memories at games and the camaraderie surrounding them provide the students with a personalized connection.“So what people are realizing is that the educational experience isn’t actually that good,” Dr. Berri said. “However, the students keep coming to these institutions because they get to go to the football game. Your first-year history class is going to be awful. But what about that football? … The key thing is emotional attachments—that’s what brings the students to campus and what keeps the alumni connected.”Read the full article: Dr. Berri has spent the last two decades researching sports and economics, while publishing works on a variety of topics including the evaluation of players and coaches, competitive balance, the drafting of players, labor disputes, the NCAA, and gender issues in sports. 

David Berri

2 min

Why the NCAA needs to pay college athletes

College athletes risk serious injury, some with lifelong complications, to play a sport while the university and coaches make millions. The potential for career-ending injury alone is enough of a reason to allow college athletes to receive compensation and Tua Tagovailoa’s case is the perfect example.Alabama standout quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a season-ending injury last Saturday that likely ended his collegiate playing career. Tagovailoa, in his junior season, suffered a dislocated hip in a lopsided victory over Mississippi State and underwent successful surgery on Monday in Houston.Although doctors anticipate a full recovery, Tagovailoa’s college season is over and his NFL stock value is considerably lower. Once a definitive top draft pick, Tagovailoa’s value is dependent on his anticipated recovery, not to mention getting back into football shape.Tagovailoa’s devastating injury is just another check mark to add to the list of reasons why college athletes should be compensated.Imagine if Tagovailoa could have been compensated during his time at Alabama. After all, the Alabama football program boasted a revenue of $111.1 million for the 2018 fiscal year. What would Tagovailoa have been paid if the NCAA rules didn’t restrict his compensation to the cost of attending school?The major North American men sports leagues tend to shell out about 50% of its revenue to its players. David Berri, sports economist and professor of economics at Southern Utah University, estimated that if Alabama followed this practice, the school would be giving about $55.55 million to its players. With 127 players on the roster, the average player on the Crimson Tide would be paid $437,410.Of course, the starting quarterback is not an average player. In the NFL, the average starting quarterback is paid 3.81 times more than an average player. Berri calculated that this would mean that Tagovailoa should have been paid $1,666,473 at Alabama.When you consider that Tagovailoa one of the very best college quarterbacks, his estimated value goes up even higher. The five highest-paid NFL quarterbacks are paid 10.18 times more than an average quarterback. Berri comments that this means that Tagovailoa could arguably have been worth $4,455,591 prior to his injury. While it may be unrealistic to assume that Tagovailoa would be a top-five quarterback in the NFL, it is not unrealistic to realize that his potential earning capacity has been substantially lowered due to his injury playing college football where he was not able to earn any money at all. Dr. Berri has spent the last two decades researching sports and economics, while publishing works on a variety of topics including the evaluation of players and coaches, competitive balance, the drafting of players, labor disputes, the NCAA, gender wage gap in sports, and distribution of wealth and power.

David Berri
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Industry Expertise

Sport - Amateur
Sport - Professional
Writing and Editing
Business Services

Areas of Expertise

Distrubution of Wealth and Power
Unpaid Athletes in the NCAA
NBA Salary Caps
Sports Economics
Gender Wage Gap in Sports
Gender Issues in Sports
Evaluation of Players and Coaches in Sports
Competitive Balance in Sports
Pay Equality in Sports
Gender Wage Gap in Professional Basketball


Colorado State University



Colorado State University



Nebraska Wesleyan University




Outstanding Scholar

Southern Utah University Board of Trustees, 2013

Scholar of the Year, Department of Economics & Finance

Southern Utah University, 2009

Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor

Colorado State University, 1996

Media Appearances

Economic Discrepancies within America’s Favorite Sports -- A Conversation with David Berri

Macmillan Learning  online


With the end of the World Series, we spoke to David Berri, Professor of Economics at Southern Utah University and
author of Sports Economics to better understand how market forces may impact America’s favorite pastime. So… is there a link between payroll and performance? Why are some sports more popular than others? As it turns out, not all sports are created equal. Here’s what Professor Berri has to say.

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'Not a risk at all': Why college football coaches are guaranteed more money than ever

USA Today  online


Michigan State athletics booster Mat Ishbia didn’t really consider the financial risk last year when he decided to help fund a fully guaranteed 10-year, $95 million contract for football coach Mel Tucker.

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The monetization of college sports

NPR  radio


For student athletes, long gone are the days of shady, under-the-cover deals. After the NCAA changed its stance on NIL – that's name, image, and likeness for short – college sports stars are now able to pursue brand deals with different sponsors from the local taco shop to Lamborghini.

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Gender information and perceived quality: An experiment with professional soccer performance

Taylor & Francis

Carlos Gomez-Gonzalez, Helmut Dietl, David Berri & Cornel Nesseler


Whether one looks at revenue, investment or coverage, men’s sports do better than women’s. Many assume that absolute differences in quality of athletic performance are the driving force. However, the existence of stereotypes should alert us to another possibility: gender information might influence perceived quality.

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The Gender Wage Gap in Basketball is Bigger than Ever


David Berri


Three years ago, I wrote about the gender wage gap in basketball. At the time, we knew average salaries in the WNBA were about $80,000, and the league’s total payroll was about $12.5 million. We didn’t know, though, WNBA revenue. Looking at the league’s television deal with ESPN and ABC, as well as minimum ticket prices, I estimated at the time that league revenue was potentially about $60 million. Given this revenue estimate, it appeared WNBA players were paid about 20 percent of league revenue.

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Sports Economics Must Improve by Including Women in the Data Set



For much of the past 25 years I have been researching and teaching sports economics, investigating labor strikes, competitive balance, labor productivity, decision-making, coaching impact and labor market discrimination. The topics are quite different, but they often had one thing in common: The participants in the sports discussed were almost always men.

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ECON 1740 US Economic History

Satisfies American government requirement of general education. History from colonial times to present. Coverage of U.S. Constitution; national economy; pluralism; ethnicity, race, gender; distribution of wealth and power; social conflict and reform; entrepreneurs, workers, workplace; cultural encounters; popular culture; U.S. and global affairs.

ECON 2010 Principles of Microeconomics

Introduction to basic microeconomic principles: price theory, theory of the firm, trade and comparative advantage, public goods, taxation, welfare economics, and industrial organization. Public policy with regard to the environment, consumer protection, and other problems is also examined.

ECON 2020 Principles of Macroeconomics

Introduces measurements of national economic performances: GDP, and interest, inflation and unemployment rates. Develops a model to describe the economic situation, and to present the options available to policy makers. Discusses the institutions and constraints that frame policy. International economic issues and the relation of the U.S. economy to the global economy are then examined.

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