The Louisville Cardinals, despite being to just one NCAA Tournament in the past three seasons and ousting coach Rick Pitino amid scandal, tops Forbes’ list of the most valuable college basketball programs.
The Cardinals have a three-year average of $52 million in revenue, with an average of $30.4 million in annual profit. Forbes reported that Louisville basketball made $23 million last year, making it more profitable than three NBA teams — the Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Charlotte Hornets.
Louisville let go of Pitino in September 2017 amid an investigation into a recruiting scandal, and the NCAA in February 2018 imposed various penalties against the Cardinals, including vacating their 2013 national championship, for a sex scandal involving players, recruits and prostitutes.
The Cardinals play in the third-largest college venue — the 22,000-capacity KFC Yum! Center — and signed a 10-year, $160-million apparel deal with Adidas in August 2017.
Kentucky was second on Forbes list, released Tuesday, with an average of $49.4 million in revenue over three years. Indiana ($35.5 million), Duke ($33.1 million) and Kansas ($32.2 million) rounded out the top five.
Next were Ohio State ($29.0 million), Syracuse ($28.5 million), Arizona ($26.9 million), Illinois ($25.8 million) and Wisconsin ($25.5 million).
–Field Level Media