College Basketball: The 5 Most Valuable Teams Today

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Every year since 2008, Forbes has conducted a study to see which college basketball teams are worth the most amount of money. And there is certainly a method to the madness. By using the most recent and reported numbers available on the Department of Education’s financial database, Forbes uses a “weighted methodology” to focus on the amount of money that each team makes for its athletic department, university, and the rest of the teams in its conference. The following list represents Forbes’s finding after using the financial information from the 2013-2014 season.

The teams that made this list aren’t that shocking, but how they got there is pretty interesting. With that, here are the five most valuable college basketball teams today.

5. North Carolina Tar Heels

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  • Team value: $27.7 million
  • Revenue: $24 million
  • Profit: $17 million

The North Carolina Tar Heels come in at fifth on the list of the most valuable college basketball teams in the country, with a total worth of $27.7 million. According to Forbes, this program also used to bring in more than $5 million annually for its conference, the ACC. That wasn’t the case last season. The Tar Heels only managed to net ACC $4.3 million on the account that Roy Williams’s boys couldn’t make it out of the third round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. Still, the sun is shining bright in Chapel Hill, as the program’s value climbed 8% in the last year.

4. Arizona Wildcats

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  • Team value: $28.5 million
  • Revenue: $28 million
  • Profit: $18 million

For the second straight season, the Arizona Wildcats were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by the Wisconsin Badgers, but that has done nothing to taint their worth. The Wildcats have seen their stock rise because of an increase in ticket sales, sponsorships, and other distributions courtesy of the Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA. Last year the Wildcats ranked sixth on this list, but a 13% growth in value has seen them rise to the fourth position.

3. Kentucky Wildcats

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  • Team value: $31.5 million
  • Revenue: $35 million
  • Profit: $19 million

John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats continue to win a lot of ballgames, and the team continues to be worth a lot of money. But that success does come at a cost. By advancing to the Elite Eight or further in five of Coach Cal’s seasons, Kentucky has found its total expenses increase over the last few years. In fact, 2015’s run to the national title game added $2.5 million to the team’s spending.

This resulted in a 3% decrease in the Kentucky’s overall value. If you take into consideration the incentives paid to Calipari when the team wins, it’s clear that Kentucky spends a lot of money on its basketball program. Still, if this is what it costs to help the Wildcats win another championship, no one in Lexington is going to mind.

2. Kansas Jayhawks

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  • Team value: $35.4 million
  • Revenue: $31 million
  • Profit: $22 million

The Kansas Jayhawks profited greatly from an increase in ticket sales over the last two years, when the numbers rose from $12.9 million to $14.5 million. Kansas also benefited from a decrease in spending ($10.7 million down to $8.5 million). Where did the majority of this cut come from? From the pockets of the Kansas coaches. Bill Self and his fellow assistants made $6 million in 2012-2013. But in 2013-2014, that number dipped to $4.2 million. Taking all this into consideration, it makes perfect sense that value of the Kansas Jayhawks would be up 7% in the last year.

1. Louisville Cardinals

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  • Team value: $38.3 million
  • Revenue: $41 million
  • Profit: $24 million

Despite being down 3% from the 2012-2013 season, the Louisville Cardinals are college basketball’s most valuable team. This decrease in total worth can be attributed to a decrease of around $3 million in distributions, and came despite a roughly $1.3 million increase in coaching and facility expenses. The Cardinals may now only be valued at $38.3 million, but they have still sat at the top of this list for the past four years in a row.

All data are courtesy of Forbes.