Young American football players now have a non-collegiate option if they wish to pursue a career in the sport. Agent Don Yee and former Denver Bronco Ed McCaffery are the founders of the Pacific Pro League, a professional league for college-age athletes.
Four teams in Southern California maintain rosters of 50 athletes, each of whom earns an average of $50,000 for their efforts. Each team will have vocational and academic counselors assigned to help athletes plan their post-football lives. The league kicks off in the summer of 2018.
It is the first time college-age football players will have a route to the National Football League that does not traverse an American college. Baseball, basketball, and hockey athletes of the same age have all had minor league or foreign training options available to them for several years.
The choice now offered to football players could signal trouble for intercollegiate Olympic sports, including water polo. “Non-revenue” intercollegiate sports programs often depend on the income generated by their football teams. The new football league is poised to divert talent away from college in general, a trend that would threaten to drive overall athletic revenues downward.
The news comes on the heels of an ultimately unsuccessful effort by Northwestern University football players to form the first ever trade union of intercollegiate athletes, and “preliminary discussions in some power conferences about petitioning to reduce the number of sports Division I schools must sponsor.” Those being just two of many signals that the collegiate football landscape is primed to change significantly, potentially altering the future of intercollegiate Olympic sports such as water polo.