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Report: Louisville Cardinals Have the Most Valuable Men's Basketball Program

U of L champs

The Louisville Cardinals men's basketball team is slightly less valuable than last year—but it's still the sport's most valuable college team in the nation, according to an analysis released Monday by Forbes.

Forbes said its analysis considers the revenue teams pump into their respective athletics departments, universities and leagues.

This year, the Louisville' value was placed at $38.3 million. Last year, U of L—fresh off a national championship—was valued at $39.5.

The Cardinals program has held the top spot in the Forbes analysis for four straight years. "The team saw NCAA/conference distributions fall by $3 million while facility and coaching expenses increased by some $1.3 million in 2013-14," the Forbes piece notes.

Last year, Forbes credited downtown Louisville's KFC Yum Center with helping boost the Cardinals to the most valuable program distinction. Forbes staff writer Chris Smithwrote:
The new waterfront arena, which opened in 2010, has the third-highest capacity among college basketball arenas. We didn’t rank the most valuable college teams in 2011, the first year that the KFC Yum! Center’s impact would have been recorded, but by 2012 the Cardinals were worth $36.1 million, up nearly 40% from two years earlier.
The Kansas Jayhawks were No. 2; KU held the same spot last year but has closed the gap between itself and U of L. At No. 3 were the Kentucky Wildcats, the undefeated favorites to win the national championship.

The Forbes analysis notes that the UK program's value actually dropped in this year's ranking—in part because of the costs of last year's surprising run to the NCAA Tournament championship game. Forbes placed the Wildcats program at $31.5 million—a 3-percent decline from last year. Smith wrote:
Spending increased by $2.5 million, and it could have been worse – Calipari, who earned $275,000 in bonuses from making the Sweet 16 and Final Four, would have been owed another $375,000 had Kentucky taken home its ninth title.
The Indiana Hoosiers program was ranked No. 8 in the Forbes analysis with a value of $25.3 million.

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.