NFL considers banning academically ineligible players from Scouting Combine

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In response to the criticism arising from the Aaron Hernandez case, the NFL is considering a change that, in our view, ultimately will have no impact on the decision of teams to take chances on players with questionable backgrounds.

According to Bruce Feldman of, the NFL is considering barring academically ineligible prospects from the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Feldman, citing an unnamed NFL source, reports that the possibility is “being discussed because of the increased scrutiny on the maturity and commitment of the prospects entering the NFL.”

By excluding the players deemed most likely to be drafted from Indianapolis, the NFL would only be making the scouting process more cumbersome and expensive for its teams.  The primary benefit of the Scouting Combine comes from bringing all of the top prospects and all of the teams to the same place, reducing significantly the costs of the medical review and creating an opportunity to talk to as many players as possible, either via the normal interview rotation or the loosely-organized (and lesser-known) “train station” conversations, which in theory allows a sufficiently diligent team to register face time with every player.

Besides, academically ineligible players would still be drafted, whether they go to the Scouting Combine or not.

So while it’s good that the NFL is considering ways to prevent future Aaron Hernandezes from being employed by NFL teams when they allegedly commit murder or other mayhem, banning academically ineligible players from the Scouting Combine won’t do anything to accomplish the goal.

Unless the goal is to generate some P.R. that will make the casual fan think the NFL is serious about the problem.  If the NFL really is serious about the problem, however, this isn’t the way to solve it.

75 responses to “NFL considers banning academically ineligible players from Scouting Combine

  1. It’s a futile attempt because academics have nothing to do with someone becoming a murderer. If the NFL is serious about this they will have to come up with better ideas than this one. A good start would be for athletes in high school and college to have to pay the price when they break the law. Too often the coaches will cover up the crimes so the players feel like they can get away with anything.

  2. Oh please. These kids have one big shot and it’s football. The noble amateur athlete is crap started by those who make money off these kids.

    I’ve got a bevy of advanced degrees. Big damn deal. The guy who can repair my car (I can’t) doesn’t have a one of ’em and it DOES NOT MATTER.

    Stop it. Let the kids earn a living. It’s what capitalism is all about, isn’t it??

  3. If the NFL is truly serious, they cheating college coaches like Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly etc. ineligible to coach in the NFL. Much easier to set the example with 32 coaches than a couple thousand players.

  4. The NFL is filled with players who cannot speak properly and likely write even worse. They’re not there to be scholars, they’re there to be athletes. If somebody is as academically gifted as Ryan Fitzpatrick, so be it. However, if they’re not naturally intelligent, well sit back and let the meat heads knock each other around on the field.

  5. great idea…truly great

    first step to creating an “alternate pathway” to the NFL…like minor league football, or the NFL D League…

  6. So it would be safe to assume no sec players would ever be eligible to be drafted into the NFL again, right?

  7. This is an unusually senseless idea.

    If they said academically ineligible players could not be drafted it would be a surprise but it a least would have a real effect.

    But this is the kind of dumb idea that makes it hard for teams but has almost no effect on the players.

  8. Hernandez was academically eligible. One thing has nothing to do with the other.

    However, if they banned every player who was arrested from the Combine, the event would last two hours. Three if you include the commercials.

  9. Over the last 5-6 years, every “problem” that arises with the NFL is met with truly stupid ideas. This is a reflection on Roger Goodell.

    PFT has done a great job of not just pointing out what’s wrong with the NFL’s responses to these “problems”, but often has a better solution. A lot of times its common sense.

    Speaking of sense, if Goodell had any, he’d hire Florio as a consultant for any future issues the league may have.

  10. What a GREAT idea!

    The NFL doesn’t have nearly enough lawsuits to deal with as of now and this will be a good way to take on some more.

    Surely this is a winner (cough).

  11. This is the way it should be. No more freebies, waivers, or hand-outs.
    Survival of the fittest (not on physicality).
    See ya, gangsta wannabes.

  12. Great idea. Way to totally not address the real problem. Total PR move that will back fire when everyone realizes how stupid it is.

  13. This is what we get when guys in suits who think they are geniuses sit in a room and talk about how to fix “problems”.

    Gooddell, as previous posters have mentioned, needs to stop walking around like he’s the smartest guy in the world and actually talk to people with a brain. He walks around so arrogantly, despite his attempts to slow the growth the NFL has experienced, which is NOT because of him alone, if even in a majority.

    Do background checks with players, like any company, you decide if a person’s background is bad enough or not.

    As was said before, Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly BOTH violated rules of an institution, yet are working freely in the league, no punishment.

  14. This is stupid. Who cares if these guys are academically eligible… They will just have their own pro-day…Heck maybe I should organize one for those who don’t get to go to the combine…

  15. I think the problem when they make it to the big time instead of college the rules change to much freedom in college the rules change in makes you feel like you got to much power then the wrong crowd comes with it..nobody can change somebody they have to change if they want to……alot of players get pushed through school in the wrong way coaches have a lot to do with it…..they need to be looking deeper in to there back grounds.the nfl has the most aresst in any sport to much freedom…..the players who never get drafted arr the ones who dont get in any problemes

  16. Was Hernandez ever academically ineligible? And, if so, what does that have to do with his criminality?

    I think Star Lotulelei had some academic problems early in his college career, what if they persisted throughout his college years?

    By all accounts he’s a good citizen who knows how to play football. Gosh, makes a whole lot of sense to not invite a guy like that to the combines.

  17. To be honest with you, everybody does a lot better at their Pro Day because of the exhausting schedule they have there at the Combine. If anything, not attending the Combine will probably help them because every team will be basing off their facts on their Pro Day….

  18. NFL considering completely ruining their sport.

    Seriously though, another knee jerk reaction that is completely misguided. Just like gun control. .0001% of the population is out there committing mass murder but let’s take guns out of the hands of the 99%+ of us that own guns responsibly.

    You are never going to prevent evil rotten people from doing unspeakable things.

    The NFL is traveling down the road of big government.

    We don’t need to be saved from ourselves and we don’t need someone telling us what is best for us.

  19. Academics has nothing to do with behavoir. You can have a 1.5 GPA and be the most respectful and polite person in the world. If they do this, that’s just stupid. #FireOurCommissioner

  20. Not sure this has anything to do with hernandez. Was he even academically ineligible?

    It might really help schools more than anything else, cuz it motivates players to do what they have to to stay eligible.

    Everyone bangs on the combine, but the fact is, right, wrong or indifferent, a player has a much better chance of getting drafted if he goes to the combine, and it hurts his draft stock if he doesnt.

    most players know that.

    It may not have a huge impact, but it will have some. And whats the harm anyway? NFL teams go to all the pro days anyway, and they do further research and follow up and all the highly rated guys whether they go to the combine or not.

  21. If the NFL is really concerned about the criminal aspect…then just force every player who wants to be in the NFL to take a class about all the laws in our society…oh and they have to pass. I find it hard to understand how a player’s writing ability or calculus skills will translate to the NFL. If anything, this will persuade more guys to take the easiest major.

  22. just have morals..its not that hard
    to teach someone right from wrong, and it all starts from ur parents..

  23. Many of these athletes get a free education to play sports, and yet they still end up in society dumb as a rock… What’s wrong with that picture? What’s wrong with having academic standards to play in the nfl?

  24. Need to hit the NCAA ranks first and weed out the problem child’s, that seem to get in more trouble than classes they attend.

  25. Fanatics will forgive any discrepancy of an individual if he is a extraordinary athlete and can help their team win games.

  26. Welcome to the first annual Ivy League Combine. I’m your Emcee, Ryan Fitzpatrick…Today’s events: Speed Chess, Math and High Waters.

  27. As much as I detest Goodell, I think this is one of his rare good ideas. It re-emphasizes the meaning of “collegiate” athlete. The ineligible guys can still do private workouts for the pros, who will have game film, etc.

  28. It’s about time. Just maybe it will help keep some of the rift raft out of the NFL. It also more then likely will drop the draft down to six rounds.

  29. Academically ineligible players had 4 + years to achieve a minimum GPA threshold. Chances are that these same players had the same issues coming out of high school.
    This is where the phrase “save the savable” applies: Players at/over the minimum GPA get their scholarship
    Players who cannot meet the minimum requirements do not get a scholarship and cannot get one for a minimum of 2 years until they prove they can adhere to the academic requirements.
    These kids had 4 years of HS to develop a routine to keep their grades up. If they can’t do it in HS then they certainly won’t do it in college.
    They had 8 years to prove themselves academically and they chose not to prove anything.

  30. First of all academics has little to do with college, its about money. Any “rules” are meant to allow parity so that more “universities” can enjoy the financial windfall that comes from competing in college athletics. Football just happens to be the main generator of those funds. They already cheat the athletes by maintaining that they are amateurs meanwhile collecting millions from tickets, television and merchandise sales that would be nonexistent if it were not for these amateur athletes who are generously compensated with an “education”…please. Universities are glorified trade schools from top to bottom and trying to deny someone an income because he didn’t grade out at his chosen trade program is just plain un-American

  31. “By excluding the players deemed most likely to be drafted from Indianapolis, the NFL would only be making the scouting process more cumbersome and expensive for its teams. ”

    I disagree with your premise here. If I am the owner of a team and I’ve got to spend more money on a guy that doesn’t think it’s worthwhile to show up in college, doesn’t that give me a bit of insight as to how committed he’s going to be for me? Okay, cue the “but this guy was ineligible, etc.” Maybe this is a first step for the NFL to clean up it’s gangster crowd, but then again, look at the pool you’re drawing from here. 87% of these guys are broke within 2 yrs. of being out of the league. They don’t come from money and they don’t know how to handle money, simple as that. They buy cars, drugs and strip clubs, doesn’t that really say it all? They go to the lowest common denominator every time.

  32. I think that the NFL is going in the right direction. But I also agree that the H.S. & college coaches need to deal with the problems early on, instead of sweeping things under the rug… These kids as ALL kids need to learn that there are consequences for their actions. The super stars have been coddled all throughout their careers and learn quickly (no consequences) that they are above everything and carry that attitude thru life…

  33. Not sure Florio is wrong to say that being out of the combine won’t change NFL team behavior but it might change some college player behavior. Can’t hurt even if it is only PR eye candy.

  34. I didn’t know there was such a thing as academic ineligibility for the NFL. If the NFL at some point has set a standard for eligibility based on academics, why have they waived that in the past apparently. If they have a standard stick to it! Will you weed out all the murderers, probably not. But why have a standard if you’re going to ignore it?

  35. Who cares about academically ineligible anyway? The criteria for the scouting combine ban is flawed already. There is academic eligibility requirements in the NCAA already is there not? That does not stop these universities from manipulating the educational system to make them money through their respective athletic programs does it? I don’t see how and academic ban from the combine or being drafted at all would change any of that. They already have a system in place to make sure that all of their athletes remain eligible to play. This rule might just make them better at it. Stupid. All show, no go. Typical Roger.

    If you really want to make an impact and prevent total scumbags from stealing an NFL job from a respectable human being and student athlete then why don’t you ban all player with prior records from being drafted, or anyone who has been arrested for or involved in anything worse than a misdemeanor. Come up with a list of offenses that will completely and automatically end all possibility of you ever being employed by the NFL. These are character issues, not academic. Not everyone that doesn’t get good grades is an A hole just like not every criminal dirt bag is an idiot. Some of them are quite clever. This is not an intellectual issue. It is a simple matter of having a code of conduct on how a potential PROFESSIONAL athlete will treat others and represent the company in a kind and respectful manner.

    This is pretty simple stuff really, and there are no legal issues to be concerned about. There are many jobs that don’t pay nearly as well that require criminal background checks as part of the application process and reserve the right to pass on you if they think you are morally or psychologically unfit for the position or the company…period. The NFL could implement this character requirement quite easily if they actually wanted to clean up the league and stop giving dirt bags that can play ball the nod over great kids that play ball. However, they aren’t serious, and this is another weak PR attempt by a commissioner that is drunk on his own power and unchallenged in his administration of new financial penalties that are issued to players, by him and him alone, and any new rule he thinks will make him look good. I’m not fooled by this bum or the owners. Get real or shut up.

  36. this is another example of how our powers that be put to much on someone having some piece of paper that says they are smart or know how to do something.
    that piece of paper or lack there of has nothing to do with the quality of person that one may be.
    I know plenty of people with no real education but are very trust worthy and just all around good people and I have also been around supposedly professional people that I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw them.
    as is said in all sports all the time- you can’t measure one’s heart and F.Y.I. you can’t put it on paper either.
    if the N.F.L. really wanted to stop this sort of thing then they should implement a policy that bans felons from the league I know many of you will say- well there goes the N.F.L. but I don’t think that. I think that there will be an abrupt change in behavior for the most part because I feel that for every A.H. type of player there are 50,000 or more that would rather not mess up their once in a lifetime chance and it would make many other players wake up and understand that they can’t just do whatever they want and not pay a price for it

  37. Like I’ve said previously, there is a quick fix for all of this. If the NCAA was so noble and not as greedy as a pig, they could stop negotiating billion dollar contracts to televise their football and basketball games on TV. Then, it would take on a true amateur feel, the coaches and administrators would truly just be competing in the amateur spirit of competition, and the NFL wouldn’t even be involved in any of this nonsense because they wouldn’t be aware of most of these players until they go out to scout and find them.

    I guarantee you the incidents would go down a lot because there’s a difference between boosters, the locals, and everyone else coddling star X who’s on ESPN every weekend as opposed to some player out of the limelight who no one has ever seen except if you’re living in that community or attending that school. Maybe these young men might learn a little bit of humility and a sense of being less entitled if you stop entitling them at such a young age. I know if the world were kissing my butt at 18, I might have become a jerk, too.

    College sports shouldn’t be big business, that’s the first oxymoron that you need to solve before criticizing the kids playing the game and not going to class or whatever else they’re not doing in these schools.

  38. Odd. The NFL is worried about the acedemics of these college players?

    How about this. If a player is investigated for a crime, they can’t go to the combine unless the NFL investigates the information and finds that the player was not in breach of law.

    Maybe arrests for violent crimes, drug possession and thievery makes a player ineligible to ever play pro sports? That would be a start.

    The NFL has turned a blind eye to personal conduct of players in college. If that player can make the NFL some cash, the NFL does not care how bad of a person that player is.

  39. This issue can be rectified if the NFL would exclude from ALL draft eligibility and free agency any individuals who are arrested for and/or convicted of Class A misdemeanor or ANY felony… Even if not convicted, the arrest alone shows poor judgement skills and associations on the part of the player… This strong position will better focus college athletes on keeping clean if they want to play in the NFL… The same should apply to the NBA….

  40. How about: If you’re convicted on a weapons charge of any kind your NFL career is over?

  41. First off, a vast majority of those who play in Pro-football were spoon fed, coddled and did not meet the academic standards of other students while in college. They may have a college degree, but if they had to get a job in the real world, they would be in Obama’s unemployment lines. So one must ask, why all the great concern about so called academically challenged players? If they have the physical skills to play Pro-football leave them alone and let them do the job. If they are any good, their Agents can do the intellectual thinking for them.

  42. If they were really serious about cleaning things up, they would say any athlete with an arrest would not be allowed to be drafted and if they get convicted of any felony while already in the NFL, they’d be banned for at least two years.

    They should also start penalizing players for arrests on DWI and gun possession. There are programs in place to help these guys, but they just don’t use them.

    I’d also like to see these guys suspended for any violent crimes they are arrested, especially domestic violence.

  43. It’s a nice first step of an idea. Seems naive, though. Won’t this just put more pressure on the ‘academic institutions’ to commit fraud in order to keep these players in ‘good academic standing?’ And, since they can still be drafted, based on on-field play, pro teams are still likely to pick them up. In the first round, maybe some questions of character might cause a slide every now and again, but i don’t think this is going to keep a kid from taking the easy way out months or years ahead of the draft.

    I wish the NBA and NFL would both act in league with the NCAA to require students leave school in good academic standing, so that the APR issue doesn’t affect the remaining kids. It’s too bad the players’ unions have so much power, and use it at the expense of educational priorities.

  44. Good job NFL, that’ll show them.

    “Hey, if you don’t keep your grades up, you won’t be able to go to Indianapolis and strip down to your underwear and get on a scale while fifty really creepy looking old white dudes watch”.

  45. Graduation with an acceptable GPA should be mandatory. or….as some advocate…get rid of sport entirely in schools.

  46. I am old enough to remember when the NFL would not draft anyone whose class was not eligible for graduation (i.e. passage of four years from when they started college).

    Then that changed.

    Div I & II have ever increasing compliance standards being placed upon them and with it increased reporting requirements.

    The APR will begin to impact those schools whose head coaches don’t pay attention to their athlete’s academic progress and coaches will be forced to assess a the prospect’s ability to make it in the classroom as well as the playing field before signing them.

    Knowing some who are in compliance functions in NCAA institutions, the collective is that is not worth it to try and cut corners.

  47. I tutored a college player who eventually made a name for himself in the NFL. When I tutored him his middle name was “Party” and would rather party than learn Biology. From what I saw in tutoring, he deserved an “F” or maybe a “D”. The University, in its infinite wisdom, gave him a “B” in the course

  48. I think the NFL is attacking the wrong problem here with a bad solution. The problem isn’t that players like Hernandez are dumb and commit dumb actions. The problem is they are undisciplined and being paid millions of dollars. And because they are undisciplined the only thing they know how to do with those millions of dollars is get into trouble. That’s the easy part of suddenly having millions of dollars.

  49. Great idea. Let’s have all players have at least a 3.5 gpa and actually have to attend classes. Who cares what the players’ academic standing is. These guys are going to college to play football. The only grades that should matter are those on the field. For the vast majority football is their major. If the NFL didn’t treat college football as it’s minor league this wouldn’t be a problem.

  50. Whatever gave you the idea that black players go to college to learn anything? The SEC sure doesn’t care about academics for blacks. Didn’t a cout case some 20 years ago at Georgia settle all this?

  51. Typical NFL decision, do “anything” to be viewed as a responsible employer. I don’t believe there should be a connection with school grades and what is required for a player to do the job he is “applying for”.

    The NFL could add an academic test based on knowledge of game….which would show strengths in
    decision making in various game situations.

  52. “NFL considers banning academically ineligible players”

    If they’re serious, there must be an accompanying team-size rule change.

    No team may carry more than four players on the roster.

    That would be about right.

  53. What percentage of players who have been in trouble in the NFL were academically ineligible? Can you back up equating the two? Now, how many players that have been in trouble in the NFL were never academically ineligible?

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