Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders will turn pro, testing the NFL’s restrictions against drafting anyone not yet a senior, Oklahoma State Athletic Director Myron Roderick said today.
“He is going to go pro,” said Roderick, who added that the school had notified the NCAA and was in the process of declaring him ineligible to play next season.
Earlier, a pro football source told the Associated Press that Sanders will be represented by David Ware, an Atlanta-based agent, to negotiate his contract. However, it was not clear whether he had formally signed with Ware.
Neither Sanders nor his parents were available for comment. Ware was also unavailable.
Sanders, a running back, will announce his decision at a news conference in Denver on Saturday run by All Pro Sports and Entertainment.
In January, the NCAA placed Oklahoma State on four years probation, barring the Cowboys from bowl games for the next three years and live television for the next two.
Sanders is a true junior--he has been at Oklahoma State for just three years--and would be the first to attempt to enter the NFL through either the regular or supplemental draft.
If he entered the regular draft, he might be picked as high as third--the Detroit Lions, who pick in that spot, have indicated that they might choose him.
In the past, the NFL has permitted underclassmen to enter the draft rather than risk a lawsuit that might eliminate all restrictions. However, they spent four years in school, like Craig Heyward of Pitt, who had a year of eligibility remaining when he was taken by the New Orleans Saints in the first round last season.
However, there is some question about whether Sanders would be granted eligibility. Some league officials have suggested that the league might take a stand in the Sanders case, hoping that it would be upheld by the courts.
Meanwhile, Sanders will be ineligible to play college football, even if he is barred from the NFL.
“We’ll notify the NCAA of that intention as far as ruling him ineligible for 1989,” Roderick said. “This is in the process of being done right now.