Is Ledecky Turning Pro a Blow to NCAA, Amateurism?

Andy Berg Headshot

Five-time U.S. Olympic gold medal swimmer Katie Ledecky is giving up her amateur status.

While the move will allow Ledecky to rake in millions from sponsorship opportunities, the 21-year-old Stanford sophomore will be disqualified from competing at the collegiate level. Ledecky has picked up eight NCAA titles with Stanford and has been at the center of the school's back-to-back team championships.

According to a report from Yahoo News, Ledecky will remain enrolled at Stanford and will continue to train with her Stanford teammates and coaches, but she will not compete with them.

Ledecky can now gear up for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo while taking advantage of sponsorships, given that the International Olympic Committee began allowing athletes to control their own names and likenesses back in 1980.

“I’ve had two really great years of college swimming, have been on an incredible team that’s won back-to-back national championships,” Ledecky told The Washington Post. “I feel like now is the right time for me to be making this transition and starting this next chapter.”

Greg Meehan, Ledecky’s Stanford coach, said the timing of the transition to professional status was perfect.  

“I think it takes a little bit of time to learn how to be a professional athlete, and I don’t think the Olympic year is the time to do that,” Meehan said. “She can make the transition now, use the 2018-19 year as a transitional year and figure out how to operate day-to-day and week-to-week. Then we’ll get to summer of ’19 through summer of 2020 and things will be in place and she can just do what she needs to do.”

Ledecky’s decision to turn professional comes amid a far-reaching FBI investigation into corruption in NCAA men’s basketball. Many say the conclusions reached in that investigation could precipitate major changes in the NCAA’s amateur rules.  

AB Show 2023 in Baltimore
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Nov 1-4, 2023
Learn More
AB Show 2023
Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide