LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A new reports from Forbes ranks the University of Louisville as the most valuable college basketball team in the nation.
Kentucky and Indiana round out the top three.
According to the magazine, the Cards turned $23 million in profit last year, making it more profitable than the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Charlotte Hornets.
The report said the Cards had average revenue of $52 million and profits of $30 million from the 2014-2015 season through the 2016-2017 season.
WAVE 3 News contributor Jody Demling said he believes the KFC Yum! Center plays a major role in it.
“There’s no other arena like it,” Demling said. “I mean the deal they do have with the Yum! Center is very beneficial for both, even though they’ve made changes to that deal or structures of that deal -- it’s still very beneficial to the University of Louisville and it is one of the reasons they bring in so much money."
Former UofL Athletics Board Member Bill Stone said he’s not surprised by the top ranking.
“UofL has always been a prominent program,” Stone said. “It was when I first came to Louisville in 1958.”
Kentucky ranked second in the Forbes report, generating an average of $49 million.
Indiana ranked third in the report, generating $35.5 million.
Duke and Kansas rounded out the top five on the Forbes list.
Rick Robey played basketball for UK from 1974-1978. He said he’s not too surprised by the rankings and thinks the basketball atmosphere in Kentucky and Indiana is the reason why.
“We don't have the pro teams,” Robey said. “[People in] Lexington, Louisville, Indiana spend it on the college programs and not the NBA or NFL.”
Former UK basketball player Winston Bennett said it’s good to see the top three schools in Kentucky/Indiana in the top rankings.
“That speaks to the basketball heritage,” Bennett said. “I think it also speaks to the important role the fans play and their expectations of the players.”
Bennett said facilities play a big role in creating revenue for the schools.
“You’ve got to be able to attract the top talent,” Bennett said. “Fans want to see it. Everybody wants their school to be number one. You have to be out there getting the top talent, you have to have the best facilities and you hope that’s enough to recruit them to your school.”
Forbes ranked college basketball teams using three-year average revenues across the 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons. They used annual filings made by the school’s athletic department to the NCAA and Department of Education.