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Pitino: College basketball means a lot to our state

Vaught’s note: Louisville coach Rick Pitino participated in a Final Four teleconference today. One media member asked him if he understood how “feverish” the Louisville fan base was when he took the job there? Let me know what you think of his answer.

Q. You see the numbers about how Louisville is the top rated basketball market TV wise. Before you took over the program, were you aware of how feverish the fan base was?

COACH PITINO: It always picks up when you’re winning. According to Forbes magazine, nine years in a row now we’ve been the number one revenue producer in college basketball. As a matter of fact, we made $44 million, which was more than the Green Bay Packers and $15 million more than our second place finisher, North Carolina.

So basketball in our state, a small state, we are in the top three in attendance every year. Kentucky is always one or two, then Syracuse. There’s states like Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas, that are so much into basketball. We don’t have professional sports, so we are the professional team. The fervor is incredible. We must have had 20,000 Louisville fans there yesterday.

It means an awful lot to them because we do not have professional sports. If the Jets are doing poorly, you go to the Giants. If the Mets are doing poorly, you go to the Yankees. Or you pick up hockey.

It’s picked up now with back to back Final Fours, Kentucky winning the national championship last year. It means a lot in our state.


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    Yes, I’m as shocked as he is that ul is higher in revenue than the Big Boys; UK, Ku, unc, dook.

    1. Kokamo Joe

      Who cares? Conference income brings in a lot. TV money. A new arena. Does that make the players play harder? Win more games?

      What about football. Does not the SEC drop 18 to 22 million on UK and winning or losing does not matter.

      I suppose it gives some of us and them another thing to argue about, but really….who cares? Kinds reminds me of two little arguing and they tell each other, my big brother can beat up your big brother.

  2. Texascat

    Does Rick mean UL is the #1 revenue producer ib college basketball or the state of Kentucky (UK, UL, etc?.

    1. Doug

      The city of Louisville is the #1 revenue producer in college basketball.

  3. Anonymous

    UL athletics is the most profitable in America according to Forbes magazine

  4. Pacman

    Based on the article it looks like the type of formula you use greatly determines the “value” of the college program. Unlike pro teams where the value is determined by the selling price of the franchise in college it is about amount donated to the school for scholarships, tickets sales and donations and amount received by the school from their conference and NCAA appearances. Since the conference payout schedule could be different in each league it could impact the amount of revenue assigned to that program. The article mentioned Duke’s value went up 42% in the last 2 years because of an accounting change put in place by the school concerning how they account for the money paid for scholarships. As you know it is very easy to manipulate statistics to say anything. I am sure another magazine could produce a different formula that would put UNC or Kansas or KY or others schools in the top spot. It is interesting that U of L generates that much revenue and yet the Yum center is struggling financially.

  5. Terry Blue

    Wonder how much of that revenue is for alcohol sales? If you’ve been to the Yum Center, it’s just one big sports bar.

    1. LindaS

      that ‘other’ school use to play at the Ky. State Fairgrounds in Freedom Hall. 2-3 years ago after that ‘other’ team had left Freedom Hall, UK played ND there. I was injured by a fan who had too much to drink. I was lucky I did not lose an eye.
      My son and I also went to a game at the chicken bucket when the Ky Pros vs the Dominion Republic played. There were a lot of drunks, nasty, mean and vulgar and they all had a beer in their hands.
      I’m glad there is no drinking allowed in Rupp it makes for a much nicer atmosphere to watch a game.

      1. Kokamo Joe

        Sorry Linda we have our share of drunks too. First one that I remember was when I was 7 or 8. We played Kansas, I believe. My father took me and my brother. Right in front of us there was a drunk. Suddenly he jumped up and grabbed a teen boy on the row in front of him around the neck and began to bash him in the face. The kid had not said a word to him. It scared the devil out of me. The old man spun the drunk around and cocked his fist. About that time officials came and took the man out.
        Over the years I have seen other drunks at both football and basketball games. Football drunks are far more numerous. They start early in the morning tail gaiting.

        I have only seen two UL games. One in Freedom Hall and a girl’s game in the Yum this year. I did not see any problems, but I can see that when it can be bought on site there is more of a chance of problems than if you can’t sell it.

        They sell beer in Cincy and I have not often observed a problem there.

  6. donv

    The Moscow daily paper headlines read “Russian car finishes second, USA car finishes next to last. It didn’t say that their was only two cars in the race. You can make statistics say anything you want.

  7. Ira

    He may have meant as a basketball state as a whole. Can’t see UL out topping UK’s brand in basketball. Not being conceited. Anything is possible. Just don’t see it. But if it is true, UK, Needs to re look at its marketing and remodel it, if UL is beating UK in profitability.

  8. Jim

    Not sure where UL is getting its revenue. But, I have read that Jurich and UL took the city of Louisville to the poor house of the Yum center deal. I can’t blame Jurich for fleecing the city of Louisville. I do wonder what kid of morons run the city , though. If I were a stakeholder in that city, I would not be happy with the deal that he city of Luisville made with Jurich and the Cards.

  9. King Ghidora

    The only way UL generates more tv money is if they Big East pays them a huge chunk of that money. Considering how many of their teams get put in the NCAA tournament it’s easy to see why their revenues are high. Notice I didn’t say that they earned their way into the tournament. Keep in mind that ESPN and CBS both love the Big East (or they did anyway) so anything is possible when you get corruption involved. And cooking the books is way too easy. I’d love to see the total amount of money brought in by each program including merchandise, etc.. No way UL tops UK. If UL is so great then why does UK have the highest paid coach? That alone should tell you a lot. There’s more to life than tv revenue. I wonder if they figured up the tv revenue for all sports or just basketball too. Does anyone think the payout from the SEC money is less than the Big East money in football? Or is it head and shoulders and another head above the Big East?

    Pitino is spinning this big time and so is whoever asked the question. Forbes likely did too. I don’t trust many media types. I trust Larry which is why I’m here and not on the CBS or ESPN sites or SI or Sporting News or Yahoo Sports or USA Today etc. etc. etc.. We get honest coverage here. I may not always agree with Larry but I respect his honesty and that is huge in the media today. it’s almost unheard of actually.

    1. Ruralvillefan

      You pUKe fans are so blinded by your fear of U of L. You say we don’t exist; Conapari says that “there’s only Kentucky basketball in this state”. The fact of the matter is that U of L does produce more revenue that pUKe & that’s because they’re the most watched team in America. ESPN will tell you that their ratings are highest when Louisville is on. Why do you guys get so worked up about Louisville? If we don’t exist…if we’re inferior…if we’re not anything like you all then why in the world are you so bothered by this? You know, Kentucky is NOT Louisville’s Big Brother: You’re much more like an obnoxious mother in law! Take a prozac & watch us play in April!

      1. Larry Pup

        See what I mean folks. Hey Ruralvillefan, UK has 8 and counting how many do the Cards have? And you ain’t won this one yet. Don’t be so cocky.

      2. Kokamo Joe

        pUKe? Little brother. Who makes the most in basketball? Who makes the most in football. UK won last year, we gotta beat them in everything. UL is flying high this year, we gotta beat them in everything. Both sides claim that the other is afraid of them.

        You do make one good point. “why do you guys get worked up about Louisville.” I could ask you the same question. ….why do you get worked up about Kentucky?

        A sports call in show in Louisville last night asked this question…UK fans are you pulling for UL to bring another championship to Kentucky? In two hours only two UK fans had negative things to say about the Cards. The remaining UK fans said that the Cards should bring it on.

        So, if you and others on both sides are a member of that 5% hate group and it pains you or them if the other teams wins, then why not save your self and why should they save themselves a lot of anguish and SIMPLY IGNORE THE OTHER TEAM.

  10. Larry Pup

    I have been trying to tell you all that UL is a legend in their own minds. They are the best at everything. Just ask em? Especially now. They are riding high, and strutting their stuff. UK better pick it up in all sports starting now. It is getting old quick, football and now basketball. Thank the good Lord for our baseball team. We need to get after this bunch.

  11. King Ghidora

    I did some digging and found this:


    Turns out that conference revenue is huge in determining what school gets the most money. The Big East and the ACC get the most money. Surprise those are the teams that are promoted by the media endlessly. Is it because the population on the eastern seaboard is about 10 times the population of Kentucky (or more) or is it because those schools get constant promotion by the media? There’s some reason the Big East is breaking up. But I’d be willing to bet all those inflated number of tournament bids has a lot to do with why they receive so much money.

    For example the Big 10 gets more basketball money than the SEC. But the SEC has won 6 national championships since 1990 while the Big 10 has won only one. Could it be that all those capitals of industry in the north mean more money for the programs or does it have to do with oh things like CBS telling us 5000 times that “Indiana is back” last year despite the fact they lost 9 games. A 9 game loss season at UK is almost a disaster. A double digit loss season is seen as a reason to consider firing a coach. People actually slammed Rupp in Kentucky because he never won any championships late in his career. Never mind that he put together some of his best teams in that time period. People wanted him fired. They said the game had passed him by. Anyone who saw the Super Kittens play in 1975 knows that Rupp still knew how to put together a championship quality team. And that was the last team he recruited. They lost in the title game because Wooden announced his retirement just before the game. They had already beaten what was said to be the best college team of all time (Indiana).

    Look at how the Big 10 was promoted this year. Time after time we heard how great they were. NOT! They do have ONE team in the Final 4. How many titles do they have since 1990? Look back in paragraph 1. The answer is ONE. How many does the SEC have? SIX!. Arkansas, UK, UK, Florida, Florida, and UK.

    Those tournament bids bring in big money. There’s a reason for all that corruption in the media and at the NCAA. They even play favorites in the Big 10 for example. I’ve seen two lists of the best programs in the Big 10 just in the last week. Neither included Purdue, which was very dominant during the Gene Keady (the Big 10’s second winningest coach ever) era. But Purdue is #46 on that Forbes list. Hmmm… I guess being the best team doesn’t make you the best program. Bringing in money does. They actually list Wisconsin as a top Big 10 team. Wisconsin is #6 on the Forbes list (ahead of UK if you can believe it). But Purdue, with Keady as the 7 time Big 10 coach of the year, was not considered a better program. What a joke.

    That Forbes list reads like a who’s who of the media darlings and the NCAA favorites.

    1. King Ghidora

      Oops! Should read “look back 1 paragraph.”

    2. Kokamo Joe

      King: A 9 game lost season is almost a disaster.

      That is true. The SEC, when compared to other conferences…from top to bottom…gives UK a great advantage. For one, I am delighted to acknowledge that. Put us in the Big Ten most years and the competition would cause our won-loss record to suffer. IMO Calipari dropped Indiana because he did not have to play in Bloomington every other year. Taking a team of freshmen into that type of environment would not be good….but then every team that comes to Rupp gets a dose of home court advantage.

  12. Sully

    Nothing wrong with Coach Pitino’s comments. He pulled for us in the final last year, and we should do the same for the Cards this year, difficult as that is. Because basketball does mean so much to the state.

    1. Kokamo Joe

      Pitino pulled for UK last year. I am glad you mentioned that. I googled the issue and came up with this quote from the Courier Journal last year after UK beat UL in the final four:
      “When we didn’t beat UK I wanted to bring the championship back to Kentucky. I don’t root against them except one game a year. I am very proud of this place (Rupp). I didn’t have a bad year here. So how could I root against them.”

      Some of us will probably dispute this quote and call Pitino a liar then launch into a dissertation about his adventure on a restaurant table. If you can’t use truth, then spin is a good argument. Like how some UL fans have spun Calipari’s quote saying that he claims the UK is the only program in the state.

      These coaches are no fools. They might not like each other, but they know that if the other program does well their RPI rises and that success at one program pushes the other and that leads to success at both schools.

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