NEW YORK — The NFL has barred scouts from attending a Jan. 21 bowl game organized by the players’ association, upsetting the union.
A league rule prohibits team scouts from being at practices or games of a college all-star game that includes underclassmen. The NFLPA Collegiate All-Star game at Carson, Calif., will include underclassmen who have given up their eligibility and declared for the draft. One junior already committed is offensive lineman Brandon Washington of Miami, Fla.
“The NFLPA could consider any group boycott as maybe a violation of antitrust laws,” union spokesman George Atallah said Monday.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said he knew of no discussions to amend the rule.
The union consulted with the NCAA before setting up the game to ensure it was not violating any eligibility issues. In a letter to the union obtained by The Associated Press, the NCAA said “in this instance … the cost of travel, meals and apparel are permissible expenses related to the NFLPA event.”
Reasoning that players who have declared for the draft — the deadline is Jan. 15, with players allowed to withdraw their names until Jan. 18 — have given up their eligibility, the union decided to invite them to its game.
“Typically, the NCAA doesn’t approve or endorse events such as these,” NCAA spokesman Christopher Radford said. “However, the NFLPA did reach out to discuss NCAA rules impacting eligibility prior to sending invitations out for this all-star event.”
The game will be televised by NBC Sports Network.