The National Football League and the NCAA on Thursday announced a partnership to help middle and high school students better understand the pathways to playing college football.
As part of the NFL's Play Football initiative, the NCAA Eligibility Center will work to educate students on the benefits, process, and health and safety requirements to reach the playing field at the Division I or Division II levels.
As part of the NFL's community engagement programs sponsored by each of the league's 32 teams, this collaborative effort — titled "Get in the Game!" — will provide information and experience to students interested in participating in all levels of football, from youth leagues to the NFL. Through various community events, the Eligibility Center will work with the NFL to provide online, on-site and interactive resources on the importance of education and good study habits. The information will be available to students as they progress through their middle school and high school years to ensure they have the opportunity to explore and discover the fun and benefits of playing football.
This collaboration between the NCAA, the NFL's Play Football initiative and all 32 teams can benefit over 3 million middle and high school students in the United States who participate annually in tackle and flag football.
"We are excited to collaborate with the NCAA to provide the best educational resources to our youth and high school student-athletes," said Roman Oben, NFL vice president of football development. "This collaboration ensures players at all levels are well equipped with the information that they need to succeed on and off the field. We want to see student-athletes achieve their goals."
Each year, the Eligibility Center reaches nearly 8 million high school student-athletes. Of those, over 25,000 high school students are certified to play football at the Division I or II levels.
"Our partnership with the NFL's Play Football initiative and the NFL teams' community engagement programs is a win all around. Through collaboration at these events, we will reach students interested in playing at the collegiate level even sooner, emphasizing the importance of their performance in the classroom as well as on the field," said Mike Massa, managing director of external affairs for the Eligibility Center. "Because academic performance starting in ninth grade counts toward NCAA academic certification, ensuring that students and their families understand academic requirements is key to making informed decisions as they pursue the dream of a college degree while playing football."