To pro or to not? That could be the question.

Imagine, NFL commissioner Rodger Godell stepping to the podium. He stands in Radio City Music Hall with hundreds of fans yelling and chanting (and lets be honest, booing). He looks to his cue card and reads, "With the first pick in the 2020 NFL draft, the Tennessee Titans select, Max Browne from Skyline High School". 

That is not a typo; I meant to say high school. On Sept 25., Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany talked about the future of college athletics. 

"Maybe in football and basketball, it would work better if more kids had a chance to go directly into the professional ranks," Delany said, "...let the minor leagues flourish. Train at IMG, get agents to invest in your body, get agents to invest in your likeness and establish it on your own."

Delany added, "Why is it our job to be minor leagues for professional sports?"

 College football and other revenue bearing sports have run into problems with amateur athletes receiving pay. Change is in the near future, but what will that change be?

College football and other revenue bearing sports have run into problems with amateur athletes receiving pay. Change is in the near future, but what will that change be?

Delany brings up an excellent point. For the last few years many people have wanted to see amateur athletes be paid for the attention they bring to schools. This has been the topic of many debates between colleges, the NCAA and fans all over.

I agree, names like Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel and Tajh Boyd bring money into schools by filling stadiums. On the other hand, these athletes are not paying a cent to attend accredited universities such as South Carolina, Texas A&M and Clemson.

The point that Delany is trying to make; should universities have to fund and foster kids to the pro ranks? Let the kids go pro out of high school if they want to be paid. 

The system he suggested to adopted is how the MLB runs their system: (Courtesy of

  • High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college;
  • College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and
  • Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed

Now picture this in college football and the NFL. High school players would have the chance to sign with a NFL team as they graduated high school. They would be paid to play their sport and can operate free of NCAA rules. 

If they chose to attend college, they would abide by NCAA rules and play in the college ranks. There would be no argument to pay players because they could have gone pro. These 'student-athletes' are being compensated by scholarships and other financial aide.

Along with adding more people to the pro ranks, this opens up a market for minor league football.  America's favorite sport can get more and more football at a high level. Imagine having a roster of 60 plus people for an NFL practice team and seeing them play a full schedule.

Colleges would also like this plan because even though it takes talent away from their teams, there would still be a  majority that attend college and get an degree. (Remember, the point of college is attaining a degree at the end of the day, not to be drafted in the top five rounds.)

Along with not losing a majority of talent, they would have far less NCAA sanctions for recruiting violations.  If a kids goes pro they don't play in college, period. If a student doesn't want to go pro at the age of 18, go to college and stays until junior year.

This system is not perfect in any means, but the idea has some validity. Delany was not trying to make drastic changes by 2014, he simply wants to encourage others to think outside the box. What is going on now in college athletics is not working. He presented an idea that could help change the culture of college sports.

There is no one right answer, but things need to change. 


Original article from ESPN writer Adam Rittenberg.