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College Football Programs Valued Like Businesses

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Interesting study in the Indiana Business Journal from IU finance professor Ryan Brewer, who gave a valuation to college football programs as if they were a business for sale. Brewer valued the 100 Division I-A public schools the way a Wall Street analyst would value a business, based on assets, liabilities, cash flows and a number of different factors.

While the valuations don't include private schools -- who don't have to publish their financials (hence, no valuation of Boston College) -- it does give us one measure of how valuable each college football program truly is. Here is Brewer's top 10:

1. Texas Longhorns $848.3 million
2. Georgia Bulldogs $483.6 million
3. Penn St. Nittany Lions $446.9 million
4. Florida Gators $421.8 million
5. LSU Tigers $397.4 million
6. Michigan Wolverines $393.5 million
7. Alabama Crimson Tide $374.3 million
8. Auburn Tigers $359.4 million
9. Oklahoma Sooners $343 million
10. Tennessee Volunteers $321.3 million

[Ed. note -- The SB Nation Conference Re-Draft's Twelve Pack claims the top two programs on Brewer's list. Indeed.]

The ACC's highest valued program is Virginia Tech, valued at over $134m. Clemson follows close behind with a valuation of $131m. N.C. State ($101.8m), Georgia Tech ($85m) and North Carolina ($65.2m) round out the conference's top five. Interestingly, Florida State ranks 8th out of 9 ACC football programs (including Pittsburgh), with a valuation of $23.6m, which ranks ahead of only Maryland ($14.99m) in the ACC.

Looking across conferences, and taking the average program valuation, you really start to see the difference in values across conference. (Note: the conference averages reflect recent realignment, so Texas A&M is under the SEC; Pittsburgh in the ACC; Boise State, Central Florida and Houston in the Big East, and the Conference USA / Mountain West merger. You know, for fun.)

Conference Count Average of Valuation
SEC 12 $290,666,667
Big Ten 11 $221,654,545
Big 12 8 $210,112,500
Pac 12 10 $83,210,000
ACC 9 $69,776,667
Big East 9 $37,755,553
Mount USA 14 $4,028,571
WAC 4 $3,025,000
Sun Belt 10 -$1,050,000
MAC 13 -$1,663,668

The SEC is way out in front with an average valuation of $290m, a figure that includes Texas A&M but excludes Vanderbilt (since it's a private university). The Big Ten finished second with an average valuation of $221m followed by the Big 12 ($210m).

Huge drop, then the Pac-12 ($83m), ACC ($69m) ... another drop-off, then the Big East ($37.7m) rounds out the top six BCS AQ conferences. The Big East's average was propped up by West Virginia ($141.2m) but also by Boise State ($64.8m) and Central Florida ($53.8m) who will reportedly be joining the conference shortly.

Also of note is the enormous disparity between BCS AQ conferences and the non-AQ. The Conference USA-Mountain West merger makes a little more sense after you note that the average program in that merged conference is valued at a little over $4m dollars. Two programs -- UNLV and Hawaii -- have a negative valuation as they suck funds from the larger university budget for support, while five C-USA / MWC programs have a $0 valuation because the programs lack sufficient funds to warrant a positive valuation. This merger starts to make more sense when you look at the financials as a last-ditch effort to gain access to the big money BCS.

Finally, could Brewer's valuations give us an idea of who the ACC may go after should there be any further expansion? Take a look at these valuations.

21. West Virginia Mountaineers $141.2 million
45. Central Florida Knights $53.8 million
49. South Florida Bulls $38.9 million
65. East Carolina Pirates $6.2 million
81. Temple Owls $0
83. Connecticut Huskies $0
93. Rutgers Scarlet Knights -$19

So if we are going to go after a football school, as Gary Williams sarcastically suggested over the weekend, West Virginia and Central Florida, come on down?