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How Much Is Your College-Basketball Team Worth?

How Much Is Your College-Basketball Team Worth?

Louisville holds the top spot, while North Carolina leads this season’s Final Four teams


March 31, 2016 5:25 p.m. ET

It was a season that the Louisville men’s basketball team likely wants to forget, as the school self-imposed a postseason ban amid a recruiting scandal in which a former escort said she had sex with basketball players and recruits in exchange for money. When the team announced the ban, Louisville president James Ramsey declined to comment until the investigation was complete, but said it was “reasonable to conclude that violations had occurred in the men’s basketball program in the past.”

Despite the controversy, Louisville remains college basketball’s most valuable team. The bad news is their $301.3 million valuation is down $66.1 million from last year’s ranking, according to an annual study by Ryan Brewer, an assistant professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus.

Brewer analyzed each program’s revenues and expenses and made cash-flow adjustments, risk assessments and growth projections to calculate what a college team would be worth on the open market, if it could be bought and sold like a professional franchise.

Louisville is the only team worth more than $300 million after last year’s No. 2 team, Arizona, fell more than 25% from $315 million to $235.4 million.

Kansas moved into second place this year at $258.2 million despite an 11.4% decline of their own. Virginia, worth $79.2 million, was among the biggest gainers, shooting up 84% year-over-year. Overall, values are up a small 1.9% from a year ago, according to Brewer, who studied 175 of Division I’s 351 teams, accounting for those in major conferences and others that have made the tournament in recent years.

As for the Final Four teams, North Carolina ($221.6 million, up 39.8%) leads the pack as the country’s seventh-most valuable team, followed closely by Syracuse ($203.9 million, up 0.5%) in ninth place. Oklahoma ($51.2 million, up 8.3%) and Villanova ($40.4 million, down 12.9%) ranked 39th and 54th, respectively.

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