Forbes Ranks The Most Valuable Conferences: Big 12 Ranks Fifth

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 17th, 2013

Call Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany a greedy businessman for caring more about the bottom line than tradition. Call him a savant for getting in front of the conference realignment fiasco by adding Nebraska before anyone had a chance to blink. However you feel, you can’t deny that the man knows how to run a conference. Forbes recently ranked the most valuable athletic conferences and the Big Ten came in at No. 1, ahead of the mighty SEC. While myself and probably many others were surprised to see the B1G on top, maybe we shouldn’t have been. The conference has a better balance of football and basketball powers than any other league. There are football blue bloods like Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State, and perennial basketball powers like Indiana, Michigan State and Ohio State. Here is how the top six power conferences fared:

  1. Big Ten: Total Income (bowl games + NCAA Tournament + television revenue): $310 Million
  2. Pac-12: $303 Million
  3. ACC: $293 Million
  4. SEC: $270 Million
  5. Big 12: $262 Million
  6. Big East: $94 Million
What Does Jim Delany's Latest Move Mean For The Big 12? (US Presswire)

What Does Jim Delany’s Latest Move Mean For The Big 12? (US Presswire)

It should be noted that the SEC’s television revenue is about to get a huge boost when it receives a new TV deal soon. It will likely jump the conferences above it on the list and vault the league to No. 1 shortly afterward. But this is a Big 12 microsite, so that’s a different conversation for a different day. The Big 12’s $200 million yearly television revenue lags behind the SEC, ACC, and Big Ten, but as the article points out, it isn’t as bleak of a forecast as it may seem. With only 10 members on board, each school receives $20 million per year and is still allowed to negotiate and keep its own tier three television rights, which usually includes certain non-conference football and basketball games as well as Olympic sports. The Longhorn Network, for example, gives Texas an extra $15 million per year. Fifth out of the six major conferences isn’t the best spot to be in, but it’s a far cry from a year ago when nobody knew if the conference would even be around today. Successfully adding TCU and West Virginia after the departures of Missouri and Texas A&M were key for the conference’s survival, and while time will tell if the two schools were the best available options, the phrase ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ rings in the background. With its television deal in place and schools making great money, the conference is not in as much in danger of being preyed upon as, for example, the ACC is right now. Maryland will bolt to the Big Ten soon while Florida State and Clemson have been rumored to be interested in the Big 12. It looks like the ACC will have 14 members next season if both schools remain in tow, though, as Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the league.

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MVPs: Most Valuable Programs

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2008

So we must have missed this around the beginning of the month, but today we came across a neat little analysis performed by the people over at Forbes that reveals the twenty most valuable college basketball programs in the nation. Their analysis takes the following four components into consideration:

We base our valuations on what the basketball programs contribute to four important beneficiaries: their university (money generated by basketball that goes to the institution for academic purposes, including scholarship payments for basketball players); athletic department (the net profit generated by the basketball program retained by the department); conference (the distribution of tournament revenue); and local communities (incremental spending by visitors to the county during the regular season that’s attributable to the program).

Now we’ll leave it to the MBAs in the audience to figure out if theirs is a proper and defensible way to analyze the monetary value of a college hoops program, but for now, here’s their results:

2007 Forbes Values

Note: we added the two columns on the far right. We found expenses from 2007 at, and return on investment (ROI) is our calculation dividing profit by expenses.

ROIs. Ohio St. is getting 6.85 times back in profit from what it spends on its program? There’s absolutely no way this is true – methinks this is a reporting issue (did an Enron exec end up on the OSU Board of Trustees?) In the land of economic reality, it appears Arizona, UNC and Louisville are getting tremendous returns on investment, approaching or exceeding a 3:1 ratio in each case. On the flip side, Michigan St. and Syracuse are only getting a 1:1 ratio of profit to expenses (which, if you think about it, is still very successful).

Who is Missing? After the last two years, we’re a little surprised that Florida isn’t on this list – even if they’re not as profitable, we figured their value through revenue from the tournament would be sky high. What about basketball schools such as Big East stalwarts Georgetown and Connecticut? Those aren’t more valuable basketball properties than Wisconsin or Oklahoma St.?

State Schools Rule. With the notable exceptions of traditional powers Duke and Syracuse, and the surprising inclusion of Xavier, the other seventeen schools on the list are big state schools. What’s driving that? The sheer number of fans in those states who buy seats to games? The licensing of all the gear that each school sells to those fans? Local television rights so they can watch all the games?

Flyover Country. The Midwest + Tobacco Road is where it’s at if you want profitable basketball, it appears. The only outliers to that premise are UCLA, Arizona, Texas, Maryland and Syracuse.

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