In the corporate world we use a Return On Investment (ROI) model to show by implementing a certain technology a company would be able to increase its bottom line, while the company writes a huge up-front check to cover the “Investment”. Similar to ones we as parents write to get that 5 star ranking for our kids, but normally without knowledge of the ROI.

In this blog I take a different meaning on the “Instruction and “Investment” just having gone through this with our son on his D1 journey as a high school ranked football kicker/punter, but with the goal of providing you the parent a real bottom line ROI, and some reality vs. fiction ROI’s.

For instance, the ROI for our son we calculated was about 7 camps a year and about $1,000.00 per camp (some local with little travel and some national so we included this in our equation) and figured we spent roughly $28,000.00 in a little over 4 years. Our son on NSD signed a scholarship to play football at the D1 School of his choice (Stony Brook University) for its high academics, his desire to be a chemical & molecular engineer, its football program and football coaching/administrative staff he met.

Being out of state the cost would have been roughly $43,000.00 a year or $215K over his college career, so think that is a great ROI for us as a family; saving us nearly $187K in college loans and longer term over his next 40-50 years, going to a school he (not us) likes best! Being part of the 2 per cent nationwide that obtains a college scholarship for athletics we are grateful not just as parents of a student-athlete but also as a coach and how I can now try to help parents navigate through the maze and the average cost (keep reading to see the real costs and average student debt below).

As a full disclosure I am a huge fan of “instruction” since I have been doing personal coaching of specialists since 1980, and as a coach “instruction” in the ROI model is very critical so that I can see whether or not my coaching style is working with the student I am helping. The more instruction I do (either in my one on one camps or our group camps with National Camp Series ( I spend 80 per cent on “instruction” and 20 per cent on competition and believe the “investment” is proven out when students are performing and you can see an almost Return on Instruction after each session.

We also have the other investment side outside of just the instruction setting. As I mentioned we attended over 30 specialist football camps and invested in video analysis, kicking blocks, football shoes, footballs, creating YouTube videos, college visits (both unofficial and official) and others have hired private videographers and signed up with national recruiting sites etc… As a kicking coach and Dad who just went through this ROI am one of the few current kicking coaches (besides Tom Feely) who can actually place an ROI model on our sons journeys to be able to separate fiction from reality.

In the perfect (fictional) world of kicking ROI’s little Johnny in his sophomore/junior year shows up to one of the major kicking camps/events held throughout the US each year (National Camp Series, Kohls, Sailer etc…) impresses everyone, wins the “camp” blowing everyone away thus earning a “5 star ranking”. Johnny moves to the top of the list, and in front of those poor slobs who have been paying all the previous year’s camps and still stuck as the 4.0 and 4.5 “stars”.

Johnny gets all sorts of accolades attends the Summer camp of his favorite D1 school “Biggie U” school and again impresses the coaching staff who immediately “offer” Johnny and his Mom /Dad a “full ride” (Although there really is not such a thing as a full ride these days-but it sounds great when Mom and Dad are at the company water cooler on Monday morning).

On the plane home Mom reads the recent AP article by writer Michael Mishak who states…”The price tag for tuition and fees at public four-year colleges is up 27 percent beyond overall inflation over the last five years, according to the latest figures from the College Board.

The average annual cost for a full-time student at a four-year public college is now $18,390, including room, board and tuition. Subtract grants and tax benefits, and it drops to $12,620. At private four-year colleges, the average bill totals just more than $40,000 each year, with the average student paying $23,290.More than 70 percent of the national college class of 2012 had loan debt at graduation, and their debt averaged $29,400, according to the most recent figures from the California-based Institute for College Access and Success.”

With offer in hand, Mom adds up these numbers and assesses that even if she uses the average figure of $23,290 and multiples it by 4 years ($93,160.00) she is thrilled their “Investment” of just a few thousand dollars has paid off immensely (of course not to mention the HUGE NFL contract Johnny is going to sign in just a few years from now- but of course will need more “Instruction” to get to the next level) can sit back and relax on the plane ride home. Return On Investment (ROI) here is about $90,000.00. First class here we come! No more peanuts!

Here is reality! Johnny attends his first camp as a true freshman in HS and wants to become the next Michael Koenan (Punter Tampa Bay making $3,250,000 a year) or Josh Scobee (Kicker/Jacksonville Jaguars $3,225,000) or Cullen Loeffler (LS/Minnesota Vikings $1,135,000). He gets “ranked” a 3 star but with hard work, determination, and of course more camps, video profiles etc.. will no doubt be a D1 kicker in just a few short years, and in assessing the numbers above certainly is worth a few thousand dollars over the next couple of years for these BIG RETURNS. Mom and Dad obviously are now in full buying gear mode, and are on the way to the $28,000.00 level (hold on to those peanuts and cheap flights!)

Private/small group instruction (which I am a BIG fan of) hats, shirts, warm-ups etc… are the regular mode of purchases and video cameras (leftover from Johnny’s Baseball or Soccer prowess) are the new appendage of Dad at Friday night Football games (as well as buying those “special” seats from the Football “booster club” or you’ll be marked with a big X on your forehead). Christmas and Birthday toys are replaced by the newest cleats making Johnny a 5 star in no time become the MUST have on his list (and maybe a camp or two over the Holidays to highlight his hard work). Hey, he needs to be a 5 star before all the summer camps are upon him, so its hurry up time! Let’s not forget all the BIGGIE U camp circuits that are about 99 per cent competition, and then of course the National “Biggie camps” where if you miss them- no doubt you’ll son will disown you- since not attending won’t get picked for the Super Duper All-World Football game sponsored by….

Fast forward. National Signing Day (NSD) comes and Johnny signs a National Letter of Intent (NLI) surrounded by all his coaches; his Mom and Dad, Grandparents, various uncles, aunts, neighbors and anyone who wants a free piece of cake, (and who all have bought new Hoodies, hats and sweaters from “Biggie U” bookstore when Johnny was on his “official visit”) “signs” his letter in front of the world.

ESPN then announces Nick Saban has just “offered” the top Quarterback in the Class of 2031 who was just born a few short miles away from the HS where Johnny has just signed, and is already a 5 star in Tom Lemmings list of kids in the class of 2031.

Yep, you guessed it. The cycle starts all over again – luckily Dad probably has the video camera from the birth – so the ROI is better, he just needs to buy the new baby warm-ups, some football bootie cleats and helmet before leaving the hospital.

Four (or maybe five or six depending on Gray shirts, injuries, Redshirts etc..) years later Johnny graduates with a degree paid for by his kicking/punting/snapping skills. Mom and Dad look back at either the ONE camp Johnny attended or the 30 camps that most of us went to and hopefully will agree that the real ROI came in the form of the “Instruction” received in the college classroom and football field classroom was worth the “Investment” in our young men’s futures over the next 40-50 years!

Finally, do colleges seek their own ROI of the scholar athletes? Absolutely. Look at every college stadium on Saturday afternoon, and since football is usually the largest revenue sport they look at REVENUE On Investment where Alumni write checks over the next 30 years (or at least attend a game) and more Hoodies, hats and jackets continue the cycle.

Gotta run! Stony Brook is having a half-off sale on New Parent Football Hoodies!