College football financial listing reveals winners, losers

October 12, 2011
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Everybody loves a list.

And most sports fans love numbers and rankings.

That’s why I wanted to include the entire list of the Football Bowl Subdivision “FBS 100” on this blog.

Indiana University finance professor Ryan Brewer recently completed and released to the Indianapolis Business Journal a 242-page study that places valuations on college football programs as if they were businesses for sale. The fascinating study was more than two years in the making.

Brewer valued the college football franchises the way a Wall Street analyst would value a business operation, based on cash flow history and myriad other factors.

I’m not going to detail the methodology, because I did much of that in an article that appeared in the Oct. 10 print edition of the IBJ.

It is worth noting that only public schools are included on the list. So there are no valuations included for Notre Dame, Southern Cal or Miami of Florida. Based on a 2008 study he completed on Notre Dame, Brewer thinks the Irish could be at the head of the list.

The Southeastern Conference has six teams in the top 10 of Brewer’s rankings. The Big Ten had six schools in the top 15.

Texas and Alabama are the only states with two schools in the top 15 in Brewer’s FBS 100 ranking. Michigan is close, with Michigan State ranking No. 16.

Twenty one schools have a $0 valuation because the programs lack sufficient cash flow to warrant a positive valuation, Brewer said. And eight schools on the list have a negative valuation because they suck funds from the larger university to support operations.

1. Texas $848.3 million
2. Georgia $483.6 million
3. Penn State $446.9 million
4. Florida $421.8 million
5. LSU $397.4 million
6. Michigan $393.5 million
7. Alabama $374.3 million
8. Auburn $359.4 million
9. Oklahoma $343 million
10. Tennessee $321.3 million
11. South Carolina $316.8 million
12. Ohio State $292.8 million
13. Nebraska $284.7 million
14. Texas A&M $245.9 million
15. Iowa $245.8 million
16. Michigan State $239.4 million
17. Arkansas $235.7 million
18. Oklahoma State $155.2 million
19. Wisconsin $153.3 million
20. Kentucky $152.5 million
21. West Virginia $141.2 million
22. Washington $136.2 million
23. Mississippi $136 million
24. Virginia Tech $134.2 million
25. Clemson $131 million
26. Minnesota $126.5 million
27. Colorado $122.7 million
28. Illinois $122 million
29. Arizona State $105.7 million
30. Oregon $102 million
31. North Carolina State $101.8 million
32. Texas Tech $100.4 million
33. Missouri $99.4 million
34. Arizona $93.2 million
35. Georgia Tech $85 million
36. Indiana $77.8 million
37. Oregon State $73.4 million
38. UCLA $66.1 million
39. North Carolina $65.2 million
40. Boise State $64.8 million
41. Iowa State $59.9 million
42. Kansas State $59.8 million
43. Cal Berkley $55.9 million
44. Purdue $55.5 million
45. Central Florida $53.8 million
46. Utah $44.8 million
47. Pittsburgh $44 million
48. Mississippi State $43.3 million
49. South Florida $38.9 million
50. Washington State $32.1 million
51. Louisville $30.4 million
52. Virginia $28.2 million
53. Wyoming $24.7 million
54. Florida State $23.6 million
55. Fresno State $23.1 million
56. UTEP $18.7 million
57. Cincinnati $15 million
58. Maryland $14.99 million
59. Kansas $14.9 million
60. Idaho $14.5 million
61. San Diego State $11.8 million
62. Eastern Michigan $9.1 million
63. San Jose State $6.9 million
64. Florida International $6.3 million
65. East Carolina $6.2 million
66. Troy $3.1 million
67. UAB $2.6 million
68. Louisiana Tech $2.3 million
69. Nevada $1.1 million
70. Bowling Green $876,287
71. Ohio $696,035
72. Arkansas State $0
73. Ball State $0
74. Central Michigan $0
75. Colorado State $0
76. Kent State $0
77. Marshall $0
78. Miami of Ohio $0
79. Middle Tennessee $0
80. Buffalo $0
81. Temple $0
82. Akron $0
83. UConn $0
84. Louisiana Lafayette $0
85. Louisiana Monroe $0
86. Memphis $0
87. New Mexico $0
88. North Texas $0
89. Southern Miss $0
90. Toledo $0
91. Western Kentucky $0
92. Western Michigan $0
93. Rutgers -$19
94. New Mexico State -$2.2 million
95. Houston -$4.3 million
96. Utah State -$7.1 million
97. UNLV -$13.1 million
98. Hawaii -$18.7 million
99. Florida Atlantic -$22.2 million
100. Northern Illinois -$32.3 million


  • lol
    LOL kentucky @ #20
    • We need a summary of criteria
      We need a summary of criteria which were used to compile the valuation to fully understand and evaluate the numbers generated. The reference to a print only article doesn't help unless we can access that article from 10/10. It is also very important to know what year's data was used to generate the ranking, since teams often have major shifts in their records from year to year, and that success or lack of it, quickly translates into lagging attendance numbers as a program declines after the loss of a top coach, or the loss of an excellent group of players who have graduated. Knowing what year the data was gathered from helps to include that dynamic into the model evaluation as well.
    • BB is not included
      The article is only about the value of the Football and excludes the value of basketball. I would be interested to see a listing that includes the two combined since Football and Mens BB are what most people consider the revenue sports in college athletics. I would also be interested in a valuation of just the BB operations for these same 100 teams.
    • VT vs the BE
      It is also interesting to see that West Virginia is valued higher than VT. The ACC's highest ranking school in this report still falls below the BE. As for basketball not being a factor, look at Kentucky. They are ranked where there are soley because of basketball.
    • TV = $
      Kentucky is 20, but the 9th ranked team in the SEC. 11 teams from SEC in the top 50. Vanderbilt may have been in there too, but it is private. Texas is spanking everyone because of the Longhorn network. It is all about TV $, which is why the ACC is trying to lock down NYC.
    • Kentucky football sells
      Kentucky is not ranked where they are because of basketball! If folks bothered to look, they are always in the top 25 in attendance every year according to the NCAA. While UK does not have a great football product, they have some of the most rabid fans that actually show up for games. This translates to revenue and the bottom line, so it is not surprising to see them ranked at #20 on a list that is based on actual revenue.

      UK and USC (in Columbia) are two schools that have fans that support the team in good seasons and bad. Indiana, Kansas, Duke, and UCLA are all examples of basketball schools that do not support their football teams. Even as bad as UK is they are currently looking to expand Commonwealth from 68,000 to 76,000 - 82,000. Football revenue at UK dwarfs basketball revenue, so it is not hard to find them where they are ranked.

      While many comments seem to think this funny, or think basketball is part of the equation, it would do well to do the research first.
    • Fails the Eyeball Test
      Not a chance that Penn. St. is worth more than Ohio State and Wisconsin combined. Something is wrong/missing in his methodology.
    • Details Please
      Sorry, I can't access the print article, can anyone link to it? I'd love to see the details of this analysis as a business valuation professional and avid college football fan.
    • Something wrong
      There is some faulty data here for sure. Would love to see the methodolgy. Different schools account for things differently with boosters, conference sharing facilities, etc.

      Georgia 2?? Kentucky 20???

      The biggest miss on the list is Florida State at 54. Something for sure was missed there when looking at the schools above them and instantly makes the validity of the study questionable.
      • FSU # 54 behind USF and UCF?
        This makes no sense at all. While FSU has been mediocre as far as their standards, they still have a national following, a stadium that seats 80k, and are consistently on television. Also, their television ratings are constantly some of the highest in TV history. They are less valuable then Wyoming? This makes no sense at all.
        • FSU
          maybe FSU has some really bad debt from the construction bubble burst. otherwise it makes no sense
        • Cash Flow Rankings?
          You ranked college football finances based off cash flow? Wow.....this has to be worst "listing" ever. I could make the most money and spend the most money and still be the most valuable team.
        • Serious
          Seriously though, how do you base a most "valuable team" listing based solely on cash flow and not even include long-term investments? Pathetically shallow research.
        • Learn to Read
          All of you complaining about only taking cash flow into account...the article clearly states the valuation was "based on cash flow history and MYRIAD OTHER FACTORS"
        • LMAO at kU #59
          worst major conference school.
        • RE: Something Wrong

          Georgia has a large fan base, a lucrative media contract, and has been in the top 5 nationally for minimum donation requirements in order to purchase tickets. It also runs its football operations very lean producing a large profit. Most outside of the south don't realize how large of a program Georgia is. It just so happens they have underachieved for some time.

          Go Gamecocks!!
          • What a joke...
            This is def flawed... FSU/Maryland/and Kansas that low? There is no way. No chance that Ohio State is that low either.
          • UGA/UF Overvalued
            UGA/UF fans arn't getting what we pay for this year, or last.
          • UGA is Cheap!
            The sweeet zone is to finish in the $375-$399 mill range, where LSU & Bama are. UGA & UF are spending too LITTLE, and getting passed by by LSU & Bama who RE-INVEST more. UGA doesn't even have a SPECIAL TEAMS COACH. Real cheap. And schedule games like Boise that make money, but hurt the win/loss record.
          • college football
          • Bobby
            Underachieve? Please. Find another team with more 10 win seasons in the last decade than UGA. FSU definitely doesn't have more, and USCe? Pfft, please... Talk about middle of the road SEC. Good luck the rest of the year, don't slip! UGA will be there waiting.
            • NET Cash Flow
              Folks, cash flow is the NET of inflows (revenues) minus outflows (expenses).

              If a team ranks a lot lower on this than you would have guessed, it means that they probably aren't doing a great job of managing their costs or budgeting.

              Imagine a ranking of business valuations. You could have a company like GE or Microsoft rank really low (and possibly even have a negative value) if they have consisently had poor cash flow (notice I didn't say earnings, which is an accounting metric). Google would probably be at or near the top of such a ranking, even though they have significantly lower revenues than companies like GE, Exxon, GM, etc. because of the trajectory of their cash flows.

              I am guessing many of the confused comments from above stem from non-business savvy folks venturing here via links from sports message boards (that's how I got here).
              • One more thing..
                forgot to mention, this doesn't appear to factor in how much of the cash flows are then used to subsidies the non-profit generating sports at those schoools. In other words, Texas' football program could be highly valuable in this analysis but if you did the same exact analysis but for each school's total athletic program, it could look completely different.
                • Cash Flow

                  You're exactly right. This is a lens that addresses cash flow and perceived risk, from a business perspective. The idea that certain programs are more valuable has to do with their profitability, efficient use of assets, and management effectiveness. Also, value changes over time, so maybe next year the rank order will be different...

                • Rutgers?
                  Am I to believe that Rutgers lost $19 on their football program?
                • TX overvalued
                  I don't buy Texas as #1 and almost twice as valuable as #2 Georgia. I wonder if the Longhorn network is part of this valuation. That would account for the inflated numbers.

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