After three years, a provision that allowed service academy cadets to put their service commitments on hold to purse professional sports opportunities seems to be ending.
The change is tucked into Section 553 of the National Defense Authorization Act,and now sits on President Joe Biden’s desk awaiting his signature. That section amends the United States Code to say “the cadet may not obtain employment as a professional athlete until two years after the cadet graduates from the Academy.”
Under the new rules, any agreement a cadet enters into to play professional sports before serving their military obligation constitutes a breach of agreement to serve as a military officer.
In 2019, the Pentagon and the Trump administration amended the rule to allow cadets to defer their service if they were offered a professional sports contract.
That change allowed Air Force defensive tackle Jordan Jackson to be drafted by the New Orleans Saints 194th overall last year, and several former Air Force baseball players have been drafted in the years since the rule change took effect.
A handful of other Air Force football players were recently named Mountain West All-Americans and could have garnered looks from NFL teams as draft season approaches.
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