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NFL reaches agreement to change May 16th rule for rookies

The NFL and American Football Coaches Association have reached an agreement to change the May 16th rule, a league source told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on Friday.

The new agreement, which comes into effect by the 2018 NFL Draft, permits all rookie players, whether enrolled in school or not, to begin their NFL careers on a mutually agreed upon date on or about May 16. The rule change allows all players to begin football activities with their respective NFL teams at the same time in order to create an equally competitive environment.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero first reported about the rule change development earlier this week.

According to the NFL, players attending a Rookie Football Development Program, who are enrolled in school, and whose final examinations have not concluded, will be provided the following opportunities to continue their education.

» A rookie player who is enrolled only in online courses must be allotted sufficient time to continue and complete his course requirements (i.e., study, take exams, including any online final exams, and complete any required assignments).

» A rookie player who is enrolled in non-online classes must be allotted sufficient time to continue and complete course requirements (i.e., study, take exams, and complete any required assignments) and must be allowed to return to campus at least 36 hours prior to his first scheduled final examination. The player cannot return to the club until the completion of his final examinations.

» A rookie player who participated in the most recently completed college football season as a graduate student, or who graduates or completes his coursework early, may participate fully in any activities at a club's facilities beginning May 16.

The NFL implemented the original rule in 1990 "to protect student-athletes who have remained in school to complete their schoolwork," rather than pressuring players to drop out of school and join their new clubs, according to the league's football operations website. However, none of the players impacted last year was even enrolled in classes, one of the people said. The NFL and AFCA have been working together to find a sensible solution.

The NFL's operations website said players from six schools with exams after June 1 were affected last year: Stanford, Washington, Northwestern, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA.

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