Annual report ranks Dayton basketball program as one of most valuable

UD men’s basketball ranks 18th nationally in study

University of Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan saw the Wall Street Journal report earlier this month just like all the fans of the Dayton Flyers.

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The annual college basketball value rankings report, put together by Ryan Brewer, an associate professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue Columbus, puts a price on programs were they available for sale on the open market. It's based on "each program's revenues and expenses with cash-flow adjustments, risk assessments and growth projections."

Dayton ranked 18th in the nation with a value of $100,010,00. That was an 18.4 percent increase from the previous year ($88,415,000.)

The rankings are based on 2017 numbers because the university tax returns the Wall Street Journal required to make these kind of lists are always several years behind, but it’s still a lofty ranking for Dayton because no team ahead of Dayton comes from outside the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten, the Southeastern Conference, the Big 12 or Pac 12.

“Obviously, it’s a reflection of our fans and our tradition,” Sullivan said Thursday, “so we are certainly proud to be in that group that is considered to have a really healthy basketball program that is well supported financially and otherwise. At the same, we’re not for sale. Our (goal) is providing value to our fans, winning championships, graduating successful young men and representing ourselves well.”

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Kentucky led the ranking with a valuation of $334,200,000. Kansas, Louisville, Duke and Indiana rounded out the top five.

Of the teams in top 20, Dayton was one of six teams to not play in the NCAA tournament in 2019. The others were Indiana, No. 8 UCLA, No. 11 Illinois, No. 14 Northwestern and No. 15 Arkansas. In short, a valuable program doesn’t guarantee success, though few teams Dayton competes with in the Atlantic 10 can match its resources.

Virginia Commonwealth, which ranked 49th on the list and won the regular-season title in 2019, was valued at $50,520,000. Only two other A-10 programs, No. 78 Saint Louis and No. 100 Massachusetts, ranked in the top 100.

“I think resources are a big piece of the puzzle,” Sullivan said. “I view my job as to provide the tool box or the weapons that the players and coaches can go attack the competition with. I feel we’re well resourced to do that. Obviously, at certain times and periods throughout a program, there’s more headwinds at times than others based on any number of factors, but our expectations stay what they are. We want to win the A-10 period — regular season, conference tournament, you name it — and we want to advance in the NCAA tournament.”

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Dayton was advancing regularly to the NCAA tournament in 2016 when these valuations were made, but has missed the tournament the last two years. There’s hope the short drought will end in 2020, the third season for Anthony Grant as head coach, because the Flyers return three starters and add four high-profile transfers to the mix. Dayton started a run of four straight tournament appearances in the third season of the previous coach, Archie Miller.

The upcoming season will also feature the end of the three-year, $72 million renovation of UD Arena.

“Each season brings its own opportunities,” Sullivan said. “We’re always excited about basketball season and what the program can achieve. The arena’s on pace, on budget, on time. I think we’ll have a really good product come Nov. 1 with the arena, and I think coach Grant’s looking forward to next season. I never speculate. People have to perform and do what they’re capable of doing. Every season we go into there’s not a game on our schedule we don’t feel we have a chance to compete, and I think that’ll be the same next year.”

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