A group of organizers with deep NFL ties plans to launch a new professional football league, with the ambition of giving promising young players an alternative to college football that offers a salary and instruction they feel is lacking in the college game.
Pacific Pro Football aims to begin play in 2018 with four teams based in Southern California. Unlike many other start-up leagues, its talent pool will be limited to athletes who are less than four years removed from high school graduation. The goal is to give young prospects a professional outlet to prepare for the NFL, said Don Yee, the league’s CEO.
The league launches in the midst of a growing debate about amateurism and a college model that rewards student-athletes with scholarships but not salaries. Labor lawyers have challenged the NCAA, and the battle is being waged in several court rooms across the country. Yee has been an outspoken critic of the college model and says his league will treat young athletes as employees, like any other pro sports outfit.
“As I’ve thought about this and studied it for years, I felt that it would be terrific if these emerging football players had a choice in determining how they wanted to get better at their craft,” said Yee, the longtime agent of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.