Owning a sports franchise does tend to be an extremely fulfilling experience, says Wright of Collegiate Sports of America. "The people who franchise with us aren't just trying to make a buck," he explains. "They really have a passion for sports."
Another key to the success of sports franchises is that they provide a much needed service. "Jeffry Duva started Collegiate Sports in 1982 because he witnessed many worthy high school football players who never had the opportunity to be recruited to colleges and universities due to limited recruiting budgets and manpower," says Wright.
Today the company deals with a wide variety of sports, and the need for exposure is still pressing. "Other than men's football and basketball, most sports aren't highly visible," says Wright. "Only 1 to 2 percent of high school athletes get all the notoriety and recruiting, yet every year there are 350,000 opportunities to participate in the 28-plus sports offered at the collegiate level. Although several millions of dollars are spent on recruiting athletes each year for colleges and universities, it's not nearly enough to cover the budgets needed to properly recruit athletes for all the available programs out there."
Collegiate Sports of America franchisees recruit eligible students; the main office then matches those students with schools in their database. It also puts the athletes on its Web site, which is accessed by college and university coaches nationwide.
According to Wright, many franchisees get a sense of fulfillment by helping kids pursue sports at the college level. "It's very satisfying to have a kid call and tell you he or she has just gotten a sports scholarship to a university," he says. "Not only have you helped the child get to the next sports level, you've also saved the family a lot of money."
Gary Conover and his wife, Donna, bought a Collegiate Sports of America franchise in October 1999. They've been building the business in Northern California and have generated $40,000 in sales since then. "I'd been looking for something like this," says Conover, who played sports in high school and college and coached high school football.
Conover became interested in the recruiting services the company had to offer when he saw many kids with sports talent and excellent academic records being passed over. "It was obvious kids and their parents had no idea how to get in contact with coaches," he says. "Collegiate Sport's database creates a link with 2,000 four-year schools across the country. The franchisees produce the players, and Collegiate Sports has the contacts. The key word for these kids is 'exposure', and that's what this program provides."
Since starting the business, Conover has helped produce many happy high school athletes. "One young woman golfer came into the program with no offers and soon had more than 40 to choose from," he says. "The best part is, I'm helping give these kids options-and I'm getting paid to do it."