Forbes magazine has released its annual list of the most valuable college basketball programs in America. Not surprisingly a team from Kentucky tops the list… but it ain’t the Wildcats. According to Forbes’ calculations, Louisville actually turns a bigger profit in hoops than any other school in the country. And by a healthy margin.
Much of Louisville’s profit can be traced to the three-year-old KFC Yum! Center in which it plays. Tickets sales, concession sales, parking revenue, etc, are all up. As the city of Lexington and UK bicker over what to do with Rupp Arena — refurbish it or replace it — expect the numbers tied to Louisville’s new arena to be kicked around often.
UK finished fourth on the overall list behind the Cardinals, Kansas and North Carolina. Only other SEC program even made the top 20 list and it’s not the program that’s won a pair of national titles in the past decade. While Florida ranked outside Forbes’ list — behind the likes of Kansas State, NC State and Xavier — Tennessee actually came in at #14. Having a 21,000-seat arena certainly helps on the profit front. With back-to-back NIT trips, however, it’ll be interesting to see how Tennessee’s numbers chance from this year to next.
Below is a look at the full list:
|School||Current Value||Basketball Profit|
|1. Louisville||$38.5 million||$24.6 million|
|2. Kansas||$32.9 million||$19.9 million|
|3. N. Carolina||$32.8 million||$19.9 million|
|4. Kentucky||$32.1 million||$19.9 million|
|5. Ohio State||$23.1 million||$13.6 million|
|6. Indiana||$21.8 million||$14.4 million|
|7. Wisconsin||$19.8 million||$11.5 million|
|8. Arizona||$19.5 million||$12.4 million|
|9. Syracuse||$19.2 million||$11.7 million|
|10. Michigan State||$17.3 million||$9.4 million|
|11. Duke||$17.1 million||$9.8 million|
|12. Texas||$16.8 million||$9.9 million|
|13. Minnesota||$16.3 million||$11.1 million|
|14. Tennessee||$15.5 million||$8.8 million|
|15. UCLA||$15.2 million||$8.7 million|
|16. Maryland||$15.1 million||$9.7 million|
|17. Illinois||$14.1 million||$9.3 million|
|18. Xavier||$13.7 million||$7.3 million|
|19. Kansas State||$13.6 million||$8.1 million|
|20. N. Carolina State||$13.1 million||$8.7 million|
At MrSEC.com we field a lot of questions — from emailers and talk radio hosts — about the SEC’s strength in football and it’s lack of strength in basketball. We believe it has to do with investment. SEC programs spend more on football and they typically pay more to lure quality coaches into the league and then keep them. The investment isn’t the same in basketball — outside a handful of programs — and return on investment is also lower.
For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ most recent ranking of college football’s most valuable programs listed LSU (#4), Georgia (#5), Alabama (#6), Florida (#7), Auburn (#8), Tennessee (#9), Arkansas (#10), and South Carolina (#17).