Air Force wide receiver Jalen Robinette had hopes of being an NFL draft pick on Saturday, but now because of a shift in policy by the Air Force Academy, he will not be eligible.
According to The Denver Post, the Academy will no longer allow athletes to postpone their two years of active duty to join a professional sports team.
“The Air Force notified Academy officials (Thursday) that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military service commitments for cadet athletes,” the Academy said in a statement. “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve status, which would permit their participation in professional sports.
“The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”
That new ruling goes against a May 2016 update to the Department of Defense Pro Sports Policy that said a “service member can request to be tendered an appointment in the reserve upon graduation and satisfy their commissioned serve obligation in the Ready Reserve.” That change allowed record-setting Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds to be selected last year by the Baltimore Ravens and immediately join the team, but now Robinette, Air Force’s all-time leading receiver, cannot follow suit until he completes his two years of duty.
According to the Post, the Department of Defense’s policy has not been changed. Instead, Air Force will not grant requests for deferral from Falcons athletes. According to ESPN, it does not appear that Army or Navy will follow suit.
Robinette, who is set to graduate in May, could attempt to argue the Academy’s decision. From ESPN:
Some associated with Robinette and his pre-draft preparations said Saturday morning that they hoped to argue that since Robinette had been working under the guidelines of the Department of Defense ruling for months and that the draft had already started when he was informed, that he could move into the NFL under the guidelines in place before the Air Force’s decision.
Like others before him, Robinette can still sign with a team, but would not be allowed to participate in team activities until 2019.
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