On April 28, the 2022 NFL draft started, and many athletes’ lives were changed forever. This year, 256 players were selected, leaving countless athletes undrafted and without a roster to welcome them. The NCAA considers a college athlete a “professional athlete” the moment they declare for the annual NFL draft. Now that college athletes have five years of playing eligibility due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, some athletes choose to enter the draft before exhausting all their years of eligibility.
The issue these athletes face is now that they are considered a “professional,” they are no longer allowed to return to their old school and participate in athletics, even with remaining eligibility years. The risk of entering the draft also increases now that college students have the ability to make money thanks to name, image and likeness contracts. Name, image and likeness contracts are a concept where college students are allowed to be paid based on their names, images and likenesses.
The Poly Post interviewed students on campus on whether they believe undrafted athletes from the NFL draft should be allowed to return to school with the ability to participate in athletics.
Gabriel Johnson |visual communication design student
“I think the rules are good as they are. The athletes obviously believe they are at a higher level than a normal college athlete since they entered the draft. So no, I think they have set the rules in place for a reason.”
Michael Rhee | biology student
“I do not think that is right, personally. I think they should be able to go back to their school and play for the school. If they are going to go back for their degree, you might as well, you know? It does not make much sense to me, honestly. I do not agree with that. I believe it should be like the NBA where you can now go back and play if you go undrafted. It just does not seem fair to me at all.”
Ruben Zepeda| kinesiology student
“For reference, I do not know a lot about the NFL and the draft, but I’ve heard a lot about student athletes being regarded as professionals. But honestly, what has actually changed from when they were in college and now being undrafted? Nothing actually changes, but they treat them differently. I doubt they are getting sponsors at that point anyway. They can get paid in college and it does not make them a pro, so why would simply declaring for the draft make them one?”
German Gonzalez |music student
“I see both sides, but I think they should give as much flexibility to the students as possible, so they should still be able to have that opportunity to go get drafted. But if it does not work out, and it does not work out for most people, they should have the option to come back and play sports, especially if they have years available. If they cannot go pro and they love to play sports, then college should be a viable option at that point.”