Researcher: Cardinals most valuable in college hoops

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Kentucky might have won the national title, knocking off in-state rival Louisville in the Final Four along the way, but the Cards are having the last laugh, financially speaking.

In a study of ‘intrinsic value’ compiled by Ryan Brewer — an associate professor at Indiana University-Purdue University of Columbus — Louisville topped the hoops list with a revenue figure in the neighborhood of $211 million from basketball alone. Kansas came in a distant second, valued at $146 million, and Kentucky lagged in the 16th slot, raking in a surprisingly low number of $71 million.

Numbers can be made to stand on their heads and do tricks for a talented mathematician, so reporter Mark Story quizzed Brewer on his methodology:

In a phone interview last week, Brewer explained that his calculations were purely financial evaluations extrapolated from the athletics budget numbers that university athletic departments submit to the federal government annually as part of gender-equity disclosure.

“When you look at the revenue being produced from men’s basketball, the University of Louisville is far outperforming everyone else,” Brewer said. “It’s not just Kentucky.”

For fiscal year 2011, Louisville reported net revenue from men’s basketball in excess of $27 million. UK reported some $6.5 million in men’s hoops revenue.

“Kentucky spends a lot, too,” Brewer said. “In my evaluation, that (negatively) impacted their standing.” UK budgeted men’s hoops spending of $10.16 million in 2011.

In coming up with “intrinsic values” for the top 100 men’s college basketball programs, Brewer said he examined the revenues and expenditures for each program, then made risk assessments and growth projections for each. He also did the same for 115 of the nation’s 120 Football Bowl Subdivision programs.

Not surprisingly, the values of elite major-college football programs dwarf that of similar men’s hoops operations.

Truer words were never written. The University of Texas topped the football revenue list, with a whopping $805 million coming in, and Kentucky’s football team ($207 mil) outperformed the Cards($120 mil) in Brewer’s metric.

The Cards were number one in intrinsic value before moving to the KFC Yum! center, but the new building’s luxury suites generated an additional $5.7 million in the first season U of L played there.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.