College Football Players Headline Recruiting

Inaugural NFLPA Collegiate Bowl May Have An Eligibility Issue

When I heard that the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game was taking a 1-year hiatus due to “stadium construction,” I wondered what college football all-star game would take the place of Texas vs. Nation Game as the next best opportunity for players not invited to the Senior Bowl or the Shrine Game.  Last year, the Texas vs. Nation Game had the extra benefit of an association with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), and was actually called The NFLPA Game.

A variety of new college football all-star games have sprouted up since the announcement that there will be no Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game.  A few days ago, the NFLPA declared that it would have its own game called the AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.  The NFLPA has partnered with IMG Worldwide on the event.  The game will be played at the Home Depot Center on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, CA on January 21, 2012 and is expected draw a lot of players from the Southern California region.

The press release for the event states that the game “will showcase the top draft eligible collegiate football players from across the country.”  Some agents have contacted me expressing concern with that language.  They believe that opening up the game to all draft eligible players, including Juniors who declare for the NFL Draft, will prevent NFL teams from sending their scouts to the game.  One NFL team Personnel Director has said that teams received a letter earlier in the year informing them that they are not permitted to attend games that include underclassmen.

On the surface, it appears that as long as the game does not allow draft eligible Juniors who have not yet declared for the NFL Draft to perform, then NFL teams should be willing to send their scouts.  An issue is if the game allows all eligible players whether they have declared or not.  James Guidry of the NFLPA has informed me that those who have declared are eligible to play in the game.  However, does it matter?  Are Juniors who declare for the NFL Draft no longer considered underclassmen?  My argument is that they are still underclassmen until they sign with an agent and/or the deadline to pull their name out of the NFL Draft has passed.  Thus, if the NFLPA is accepting non-represented Juniors into its game, whether they declared for the NFL Draft or not, that decision could effectively prevent NFL teams from sending their scouts to the game.  And what NFL Draft prospects want to perform in an extra game if no decision makers will be there?

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.