The potential of being drafted into a professional league is a reality for the most elite NCAA student-athletes. While most student-athletes may know their sport well and understand the general parameters of how college athletes become professional athletes, the NCAA has recognized the need for elite NCAA student-athletes to learn more about their professional chances before giving up their remaining eligibility. In the past, a student-athlete gave up their remaining eligibility the minute that student-athlete declared for a professional draft and hired an agent. The NCAA now allows for student-athletes in certain sports to declare for a draft and hire an agent while retaining eligibility. If you have questions about this process, then it is important that you speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
NCAA Amateurism Rules
To compete in NCAA collegiate athletics, a student-athlete must meet amateurism requirements. If a student-athlete takes certain actions, then it may affect his or her eligibility. Situations that can affect a student-athlete's amateur status include:
- Using a recruiting agency or a scouting service
- Being paid by a sports team to participate
- Being paid to cover training expenses
- Accepting prize money at an athletic competition
- Hiring an agent
If a student-athlete is involved in any of the above circumstances, then the NCAA may declare them ineligible due to losing amateur athlete status. These rules are more directly addressed when an elite NCAA student-athlete is considering entering a professional draft. If a student-athlete follows the correct procedures when going through the pre-draft process, then they can change their mind and decide to return to school without losing eligibility.
What is an NCAA-Certified Agent?
An NCAA-certified agent is an individual who is certified by the NCAA to enter into an agency contract with a student-athlete. All certified agents go through a certification process to ensure their credentials and status. If a family member wishes to represent a student-athlete, then the family member does not need to be certified by the NCAA. An individual acting solely on behalf of a professional team or organization is also not required to be certified by the NCAA. All NCAA-certified agents must maintain their certification through the NCAA or will be barred from representing student-athletes.
What is an NCAA-Certified Agent Allowed to Provide?
NCAA-certified agents are allowed to provide the student-athlete and his or her family with meals and expenses. If the state law where the student attends school allows for expenses to be provided, then certified agents can provide student-athletes and their families with meals and transportation. Student-athletes are not allowed to miss any class during the agent selection process. Any agent agreements must be made in writing and disclosed to the school of the student-athlete. If the student-athlete hires an agent for the pre-draft process, then the agent can provide the student-athlete and family members with meals, transportation, and lodging when meeting with a professional team or an agent. If the student ultimately decides to return to school, then the agency agreement will be terminated, and the expenses shall also cease to be paid.
NCAA Men's Basketball Player Draft Rules
If an NCAA men's basketball player wishes to test the waters of the NBA draft without losing his eligibility, then he must follow the rules set out by the NCAA. There are nine major rules that can result in a student-athlete losing their eligibility if they are not followed. They are:
- Entering the NBA Draft or hiring an agent before requesting an NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation.
- Agreeing to be represented by someone that is not an NCAA-certified agent.
- Agreeing to be represented by an NCAA-certified agent outside of the allowable timelines.
- Accepting a benefit from anyone other than an NCAA-certified agent.
- Accepting a benefit from an NCAA-certified agent that is not permitted by NCAA rules or outside of the allowable timelines.
- Participating in an NBA tryout for longer than 48 hours for which the student-athlete has not personally financed, or the certified agent has not financed.
- Missing class due to a tryout.
- Entering the NBA Draft and not taking the appropriate steps to withdraw and resume as a college student-athlete.
- Entering the NBA Draft and getting drafted by an NBA team.
The first thing any potential draftee must do is request evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee before declaring for the NBA Draft. It is important to note when the dates are for timely withdrawal from the NBA Draft for any potential draftees. If a potential draftee wishes to withdraw his name from the NBA Draft, he must do so within ten days of the conclusion of the NBA Draft Combine. He also must declare his intention to return in writing to the athletic director of his school.
NCAA Men's Baseball Player Draft Rules
Major League Baseball's draft is quite different from the NBA Draft discussed above. The MLB does not require a student-athlete to make a declaration to enter the MLB Draft to be drafted. So, if an NCAA baseball player is drafted, it is done so because the team decided to draft the player, not because the player was seeking to be drafted. Because no declaration is necessary, an NCAA men's baseball player can be drafted without losing his college eligibility. NCAA men's baseball players that are from four-year colleges must have completed at least their junior years and be at least 21 years old to be eligible to be drafted in the MLB Draft. Junior college players are always eligible to be drafted, regardless of class. After the draft is completed, the MLB team has until 11:59 pm on August 15 to sign the player to a professional contract. If a player does not sign, then he retains eligibility and can go back to college. He can be drafted again the following year if he is eligible for the following year's draft.
NCAA Men's Hockey Player Draft Rules
In hockey, the only time player agents are allowed is before college. Hockey and baseball are unlike basketball because hockey and baseball players can be drafted by professional leagues and still remain eligible and play in college as long as they have not signed with a professional team. Agents in these scenarios can help junior players who may be drafted and have to choose between semi-professional junior leagues or college hockey. If you have questions about draft prospects or eligibility, then call us at The Lento Law Firm so we can help!
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm is the Right Choice
If you are an NCAA student-athlete who is considering entering a professional sports draft, then it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped student-athletes across the country who are considering turning professional. Call the us today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring Lento Law is the right choice to make sure you take the correct steps in your quest to become a professional athlete.