The Louisville basketball program has been listed as the nation's most profitable by a handful of publications over the past couple of years. Now Forbes is joining the party and listing U of L basketball as the overall most valuable program in college basketball.
Here's the skinny:
The Louisville Cardinals celebrated upset victories over Marquette and Notre Dame en route to Sunday's Big East Championship, where they defeated fourth-seeded Cincinnati. Such on-court success has come to define Louisville's basketball program in recent years, which has translated to success on the balance sheet. The Cardinals have unseated North Carolina as the NCAA's most valuable basketball team, with a total value of $36.1 million.
Louisville's value is helped by ticket sales of $1.4 million and an additional $1 million from the sales of concessions, parking and programs. But the major driver behind Louisville's financial success is contributions to the basketball team, which hit $20 million last year. Only five other teams were able to generate $20 million in total revenue, let alone from a single source. A significant portion of those contributions are tied to luxury seating. College teams don't sell seat licenses like professional teams, but rather require that fans make a minimum contribution before they can purchase season tickets or luxury seating options.
The financial windfall that seating-related contributions generate for college basketball teams is just one way that the sport is progressively emulating its professional counterpart. This is the first year that our valuations have captured the effects of Louisville's KFC Yum! Center, which opened in October 2010. The state-of-the-art waterfront arena rivals many NBA venues, and it has certainly played a major role in Louisville's 39% growth in value over the last two years.
According to the report, U of L basketball is currently valued at $36.1 million with an average profit of $23.2 million. The value of the program has grown by 39% over the past two years.
North Carolina, Kansas, Duke and Kentucky rounded out Forbes' top five.
So the good news just continues to pour in. I'm expecting news of a Russ Smith reality show on MTV to break at some point on Wednesday morning.