The University of Connecticut beat the University of Kentucky on Monday night during the NCAA championship game. The Huskies won the glory. The confetti bath. The right to star in this year’s “One Shining Moment”.
And, presumably, a few months from now, the players will get a championship ring. A big, blingy championship ring, like this one (photo courtesy of The Associated Press):
Pretty fancy, right? Turns out those rings look a lot more expensive than they actually are. Student-athletes who win championships can only receive $415 worth of gifts for the victory, per NCAA rules. (They are allowed additional gifts for participating in post season conference events and for winning their conference championship.)
According to USA Today, Jostens, the company that likely made your high school graduation ring, makes these college championship rings. In 2013, USA Today spoke to Chris Poitras, from Jostens sport division:
“In the last 5-10 years, the increase in gold and genuine diamond prices has pretty much priced gold and diamonds out of the scenario for college rings,” Poitras said.
Instead, the rings are decked out in “simulated colored non-genuine stones” and “metals that look exactly the same [as gold], but cost considerably less.”
Just becuase the rings aren't made of actual diamonds and gold doesn't make them cheap for the schools. According to AL.com, after Auburn's football team won the national football championship the school "spent the $75,000-$80,000 for one set of the national championship rings and the SEC title ring, which was slightly less than what was allowed by the NCAA."
Note: The Auburn-designed national championship ring that went to the players and coaches cost $415 each, the exact amount allowed by the NCAA. The SEC championship ring cost $285 each, under the $315 allowed by the NCAA.
Let's say you are one of the student athletes lucky and talented enough to earn a ring. You can't sell it. According to the NCAA rulebook: "awards received for intercollegiate athletics participation may not be sold, exchanged or assigned for another item of value, even if the student-athlete’s name or picture does not appear on the award."