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Expanded eligibility rules might make the NWSL College Draft more relevant than ever


Last week, in anticipation of the upcoming 2019 College Draft, the National Women’s Soccer League announced some changes in the rules pertaining to eligibility, allowing younger players to jump to the professional level early. The NWSL will no longer require college athletes to exhaust their eligibility before entering the draft, which allows certain top talents to enter the league through that particular process, as opposed to waiting for allocated status from either the U.S. Soccer Federation or Canada Soccer.

At a glance, this change could come with monumental repercussions, or end up having no bearing on this year’s first round at all. There is still a natural back-and-forth for young women’s soccer players in the United States as to whether the inherent value of a completed college degree is worth more than possibly developing into an elite talent against the highest competition. The NWSL becomes a more viable career option every year, but it also has a non-allocated salary maximum that doesn’t break $50,000, and putting a scholarship-supported higher education on hold for a career that will be over by the time the player is 35 — at best — is sometimes a difficult thing to justify.

The league has also had some high-profile struggles this year, with clubs like Sky Blue FC failing to provide necessary facilities and development for their players, over the course of a number of years. And in looking for motives for players to jump ship to the NWSL early, avoiding a contract at such a struggling club might be a greater impetus than those watching the league might credit.

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