Forbes Announces Most Valuable College Basketball Teams

By Kaylyn Sanbower,
Sports Business Writer

When deciding upon college bas­ketball’s most valuable teams, talent and hard work are not the only determinants. There is also a strong correlation between top performance on the court and high net worth.

There is no better example of this than No. 4 seed, Louisville who has had two Fi­nal Four appearances, and is undoubtedly working to make this year the third consec­utive appearance there. With an astounding net worth of $39.5 million, Louisville has all of the components of a top ranked bas­ketball program.

Teams have been ranked using a weighted system that takes into account the value they bring to their conference, uni­versity, and their athletic department. The funds generated for their school’s athletic department support both their own team along with other teams in the department, which Louisville proves can bolster suc­cess for all sports.

Teams have been ranked this way since 2008, and while Louisville has con­sistently been in the top three, they beat out the other programs when they added the KFC Yum! Center to their assets. After two years competing in this arena, Louisville increased its net worth by 40 percent, leav­ing its value unsurpassable. Ticket sales, parking, concessions, and incredibly gen­erous alumni contributions are just some of the factors contributing to Louisville’s massive success.

Another program experiencing the benefits of a generous alumni base is Kan­sas. While the Jayhawks have not always been a financial power, they have improved drastically over the past few years and are now the second most powerful program in Men’s Basketball.

This is not to say that the Jayhawks have relied upon exogenous forces to im­prove their rank; the Jayhawks have been dominant on the court and that pays. They have made more money through the big dance than any of their competitors.

Thanks to advances of the Cardinals and the Jayhawks, the Tar Heels have had to resign themselves to the fourth most valuable team ranking after a strong run in the number one spot. Team value fell by 22 percent as a result of fewer home games and a new television deal. North Carolina was beat out for the third spot by Kentucky.

To provide a framework for compari­son, the average team is worth $20.2 mil­lion. Two of the biggest changes in these rankings come from Arizona and NC State.

No. 6 Arizona is not valued at $25.2 million, which is a 29 percent jump since their fall in value over the past couple years. Additionally, number 12 NC State is now worth $17 million after a strong 30 percent increase.

Not all teams experienced such suc­cess: two teams, UCLA and Kansas State fell off the list this year. UCLA has had an abysmal year with losses both on the court and in the books. These two spots were filled by No. 14 Michigan and No. 20 Ar­kansas, whose earnings were $14.2 million and $11 million, respectively.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Mar. 25 print edition.

Contact Kaylyn at


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