The NFL Draft is the culmination of a lifetime of effort, talent, and skill. Players dream of the moment where their name is called and they walk on stage and shake hands with the Commissioner of the league. This year, due to the labor strife, the NFL Draft is the main event but there are other celebrations being thrown in New York City by the NFL Players Association to commemorate the moment. These additional parties celebrations offer an opportunity for players share their moment with their families, friends, coaches, and teammates. It’s a fun time for all involved. But we all know, where there’s fun, there’s the NCAA putting a wet blanket on things.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that the NCAA released a memo to draft-eligible players warning them that players still eligible for college that attend draft parties may be breaking the rules. In bold letters the memo states, “Please do not jeopardize the NCAA eligibility of your friends or former teammates.” Basically, any college player that attends an NFL Draft party must not accept any “benefits” which can include travel, lodging, meals, or entertainment. Once a player accepts “benefits” of any can it can damage not only their amateur status but also the status of their team which can lead to everything from forfeiting losses to loss of scholarships. All this for a party?
Essentially, what the NCAA is saying is if your best friend is a college junior who is drafted but you are still a sophomore who plays athletics you cannot go to New York and participate in any of the draft festivities with him unless you pay your own way. Now, how you pay your own way as a college sophomore who plays athletics is a conundrum because you are not allowed to work and no one is allowed to loan you money or give you gifts of any kind. This particularly sucks if your friend has the opportunity to make it in a professional league but you’re one of the athletes that “goes pro in something other than sports,” that the NCAA loves to tout in their advertising. You end up on the outside looking in and not able to share that once in a lifetime moment with your friend.
This is utterly ridiculous. Once again the NCAA is inserting itself into matters where it simply does not belong and creating a rule that will punish more than it serves as guidance. Certainly there may be an individual that takes money from an undesirable source as an attempt to attend these parties and rub elbows with a who’s who of this year’s draft class and the NFL Players Association bigwigs. But by and large the people that attend are there to celebrate the achievement of the lifetime goal of a friend. Maybe one day the NCAA will realize there are much more important things to govern than who attends what party but I wouldn’t hold my breath.