FAQs – Football

What is the NFL’s Draft eligibility rule?

The NFL and NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement states that a player may only apply for eligibility in the NFL Draft three years after his graduation from high school or graduation of the class with which he entered high school, whichever is earlier. If a player chooses to enter the draft after only three NFL regular seasons have begun and ended following his high school graduation or graduation of the class with which he entered, he must apply for early eligibility, i.e. “opt in.”

What is an NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor?

The NFLPA has a required certification program that includes an examination for all people that want to act as certified contract advisors for NFL players. No person is permitted to conduct contract negotiations on behalf of an NFL player unless he/she is certified as a contract advisor by the NFLPA.

Which student-athletes are affected by the NFLPA rule regarding certified contract advisor contact?

The rule prohibits contract advisors from communicating with a player who is ineligible to be drafted until the conclusion of the player’s last regular season or conference championship game (excluding any postseason bowl game) or December 1, whichever is later. Remember: in order for an agent to have communicate with the player, three NFL regular seasons must also have begun and ended following either the player’s high school graduation or graduation of the class with which he or she entered high school, whichever is earlier. This rule applies to all NFLPA Certified Contract Advisors, any representatives of these contract advisors or anyone acting on the behalf of such contract advisor.

What types of communication are prohibited by this new regulation?

This new regulation prohibits any and all communication with student-athletes who are ineligible to be drafted, with the exception of general promotional brochures. Communication includes but is not limited to in-person contact, telephonic and electronic communication.

Does electronic communication include messages and other notifications sent through social networking Web sites (i.e. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.)?

YES. Communication through social networking Web sites may not occur between contract advisors and student-athletes ineligible to be drafted. Even “friend requests” or invitations to join a site user’s network are considered electronic communication even if no additional message is sent with such a request or invitation.

Does this rule apply to communication with the family of a student-athlete?

YES. The rule prohibits communication by a contract advisor with any person in a position to influence a prospective player who is ineligible to be drafted.

Does this rule apply to communication with close friends of a student-athlete?

YES. The rule prohibits communication by a contract advisor with any person in a position to influence a prospective player who is ineligible to be drafted.

Can contract advisors send a prospective player, or his family, promotional brochures?

YES. A contract advisor may send any prospective player or prospective player’s parent(s), relative(s) or legal guardian(s) promotional brochures as long as the information is general and not specifically directed to a particular player.

Does this prohibition apply to presentations on campus during “Agent Days”?

YES. A contract advisor, a representative of a contract advisor or any person affiliated with a contract advisor, including “runners”/recruiters, financial advisors and marketing representatives are prohibited from speaking or presenting to groups of prospective players who are ineligible for the NFL Draft. Therefore, this regulation would cover certified contract advisors who come to campus to present at events such as “Agent Days,” when student-athletes who are not eligible for the NFL Draft will be present.

Who will make determinations of the penalties for certified contract advisors who violate this rule?

The NFLPA “CARD” – Committee on Agent Regulation and Discipline, a three- to five-person committee appointed by the president of the NFLPA, will be charged with reviewing any allegations and making determinations on the penalties for certified contract advisors who violate the rule.

What penalties will be enforced for violation of this rule?

The NFLPA can undertake the following penalties for violation of this regulation: a. Issue an informal or formal letter of reprimand; b. Suspend certified contract advisor’s certification; c. Revoke certified contract advisor’s certification; and or d. Impose a fine.

If a student-athlete communicates with a contract advisor prior to being eligible for the draft, will the student-athlete be subject to any penalties?

NO. Communication with a contract advisor, although a violation of NFLPA regulations by the contract advisor, does not subject the student-athlete to sanctions from the NCAA, NFLPA or NFL, provided that the student-athlete does not violate any NCAA agent regulations.

Does this new regulation change any NCAA agent bylaws that are currently in place?

NO. This regulation was enacted by the NFLPA, and does not broaden or narrow any existing NCAA legislation regarding student-athlete contact with agents.

If you have any questions about this regulation or witness any contact that would violate this rule, who should you contact?

You should contact the NC State Professional Sports Counseling Panel at sportspanel@ncsu.edu or th NFLPA at 1-800-372-2000.

What is the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA)?

The NFLPA helps players find legitimate and registered agents and financial planners, negotiate contracts and salary, obtain benefits, file grievances, get involved in licensing and marketing programs, and gain access to membership programs. In addition, the NFLPA negotiates on behalf of the players to protect their rights under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

What is the NFL combine?

Each February, professional scouts from the NFL select senior athletes to participate in the combine. The athletes are tested in a series of drills including timed runs, strength and conditioning and position drills, and are given thorough physical and mental examinations.

Can I attend the NFL combine, as a prospective or enrolled student-athlete, without affecting my eligibility?

A prospective student-athlete remains eligible in a sport even though, prior to enrollment in a collegiate institution, the student-athlete may have tried out with a professional athletics team in a sport or received not more than one expense-paid visit from each professional team, provided such a visit did not exceed 48 hours and any payment or compensation with the visit was not in excess of actual and necessary expenses. A self-financed tryout may be for any length of time.

Subsequent to enrollment, a student-athlete shall not try out with a professional athletics team in a sport or permit a professional athletics team to conduct medical examinations during any part of the academic year while enrolled in a collegiate institution as a regular student in at least a minimum full-time academic load, unless the student-athlete has exhausted eligibility in that sport. The student-athlete may try out with a professional organization in a sport during the summer or during the academic year while not a full-time student, provided the student-athlete does not receive any form of expenses or other compensation from the professional organization.

Do I have to attend the NFL combine in order to be drafted?

No. Many star players in the league are not at the combine yet they still were drafted, sometimes in upper rounds.

Who do I contact to get information on my draft status?

In order to determine how high an individual will be drafted, there is an NFL panel that can be contacted. The Professional Sports Counseling Panel may request information for a student-athlete from a professional sports team or organization regarding the student-athlete’s potential as a professional athlete.

As an enrolled student-athlete, am I allowed to enter the draft without jeopardizing my eligibility?

Division I-A and I-AA football student-athletes are permitted to enter the NFL draft one time without jeopardizing eligibility in that sport, provided the student-athlete is not drafted by any team in that league and the student-athlete declares his intention to resume intercollegiate football participation within 72 hours after the NFL draft declaration date. Further, the 72-hour period begins at 12:01 a.m., after the NFL draft declaration deadline. This date is traditionally in mid-January.

In the above circumstance, the individual may not have an oral or written agreement with an agent or not received any benefits from an agent in order to return to or enroll in an NCAA institution.

As a prospective or currently enrolled student-athlete, is being drafted the only way to play in the NFL?

No. As a general rule of thumb, an individual can petition the NFL to declare for the draft three years subsequent to his/her high school graduation date.

Four years subsequent to high school graduation, an individual is immediately eligible for the draft. If an individual is not drafted, then he/she is considered a free agent immediately following the primary draft of his or her draft year.

Please note that this may vary depending on specific circumstances, so contact the NFL for more details.

Am I allowed to participate in the NFL Combine in February and maintain my eligibility?

NO. The NFL Combine occurs from February 17-23, which is after the deadline for withdrawing from the NFL Draft. Only student-athletes who have committed to entering into the NFL Draft are allowed to participate in the NFL Combine.

Can I participate in on-campus “pro days” for NFL teams if school is still in session?

YES. Participation in on-campus “pro days” for NFL teams is considered participation in a tryout for an NFL team. If you are enrolled as a full-time student at the institution, you may participate in these workouts provided that you do not miss any class time.

Can I participate in private workouts/tryouts with professional teams if school is still in session?

YES. You may tryout with a professional football team (or participate in a combine including that team) during the academic year if you are enrolled full-time, so long as you do not miss class; the tryout does not exceed 48 hours and you do not receive more than actual and necessary expenses from the team. (Note: Similar restrictions apply during the summer.) 

Can professional football teams pay for my private workouts/tryouts?

YES. You may receive actual and necessary expenses from the NFL team in conjunction with one 48-hour tryout per team (or combine including that team). The 48-hour tryout period begins when you arrive at the tryout location. At the completion of the 48-hour period, you must depart the location of the tryout immediately in order to receive return transportation expenses.

Can I pay for my own private workouts/tryouts with professional football teams?

YES. A tryout may extend beyond 48 hours if the individual self-finances additional expenses, including return transportation. A self-financed tryout may be for any length of time, provided you do not miss class and the workouts are entirely self-financed.

Can any other individual (e.g., agent, runner or “advisor”) pay for my private workouts/tryouts with professional teams?

NO. It is not permissible for any other individual (e.g., agent, runner or advisor) to pay for your expenses in conjunction with any tryout or workout with a professional team. Unless an NFL team pays for your expenses in conjunction with a private workout or tryout, you and your family are responsible for paying all expenses associated with any tryouts as they are incurred.

What is the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) rule regarding agent contact?

In June 2012, the NFLPA eliminated the “junior rule” and now allows for an NFLPA certified agent to have contact with student-athletes. However, the no contact rule still applies to individuals who are not themselves certified by the NFLPA for recruiting prospective players, including individuals who work with the certified agent’s business, “runners”/recruiters, financial advisors and marketing representatives.

Is an agent allowed to contact teams on my behalf to arrange private workouts or tryouts?

NO. You cannot have an agent arrange a private workout/tryout with an NFL team.