Like it or not, college sports is a business, just not in the conventional sense that we think of business enterprises. But what if it were valued as a true for-profit business, what would the value of Oklahoma football, for example, be on the open market.
The Wall Street Journal has done an analysis looking into that question in an effort to determine the so-called market value of college football’s most successful programs. In doing so, it’s probably not surprising that Oklahoma is among the college game’s most lucrative.
The study by the country’s largest business newspaper organization examined available university financials and “calculates what a college team would be worth on the open market if it could be bought and sold like a professional sports franchise.”
Texas, reported to have the nation’s highest athletic budget, Ohio State and Alabama all are valued at more than $1 billion, according to the WSJ study, with the Longhorns out of the Big 12 leading the pack.
Oklahoma ranked seventh in the analysis, valued at $885 million. The Sooners were successful before Lincoln Riley arrived in Norman, but there is little question the OU football value has gone up since Riley arrived in 2015, first as offensive coordinator and, for the last three years, as head coach. That’s what three consecutive College Football Playoff appearances, five consecutive Big 12 championships and a pair of Heisman Trophy winners will do for you.
The Sooners enjoyed revenue of $126.4 million in 2018, the most recent year for which financial details are available, second in the Big 12 only to Texas.
Michigan ($924.6 million), Notre Dame ($913.4) and Georgia ($891) ranked ahead of Oklahoma. Rounding out the top 10 were Auburn ($871.9 million), LSU ($852.4) and Tennessee ($727.8).