The NFL has agreed to drop the rule that prevented rookies from joining their new NFL teams until their school's final exams were completed.
According to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the new "May 16 rule" agreement will allow all rookies to join their NFL team around May 16, whether they are still enrolled in school or not.
The old rule had been adopted in 1990 to ensure student-athletes remained in school and finished their course work, rather than drop out to join their team.
As a result, earlier this year players from six schools with exams after June 1 were affected: Northwestern, Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford, UCLA and Washington. Three top 10 picks in the 2017 draft, Solomon Thomas and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, and John Ross of Washington, were delayed in joining their new teams. McCaffrey had expressed his frustration with the old rule because he was no longer enrolled in school.
"It sucks. It's really tough," McCaffrey said, via the Panthers website.
The new agreement, reached in a deal between the NFL and the American Football Coaches Association, stipulates that rookies who are still enrolled in school cannot be compelled to join their team. They also must be given sufficient time to help them complete their studies and/or exams. The player's academic progress will be jointly monitored by their NFL team and the school's academic advisors.