First, let me say I am in no way an expert on the subject. I believe I first heard about NCAA proposal 2009-22 back in 2009. Somewhere I bumped into it and it immediately caught my attention as a fan of the Gonzaga Men's Basketball team. This news stuck out to me especially because I began seriously following MLS as well as the Sounders around the same time MLS announced their youth development initiative. The proposal was huge for what MLS was wanting to do.
Originally the best source of information I found on the subject was Dr. Anastasios Kaburakis and his blog.
Specifically his work regarding NCAA Amateurism.
Sports Illustrated has talked about the issue.
But that is all in the past.
After some changes and a little reworking the proposal passed.
What is now relevant to the current state of affairs can be found here.
Article 12 provides the relevant information that we will want read through. Specifically 12.2 which deals with involvement with professionals. It begins on page 65 of the document.
12.3 could be of interest as well as it talks about the use of agents etc. This would be of interest especially to our potential Home Grown Players the team is looking to sign. Who can they consult with while retaining eligibility?
Back to 12.2. The key phrase you will see frequently is "actual and necessary expenses."
Before enrollment, a player can tryout for a team, practice with a team, compete on a professional team. All this is provided they do not receive more than actual and necessary expenses.
Where it gets more complicated is when an individual is enrolled full-time.
18.104.22.168 Tryout After Enrollment. After initial full-time collegiate enrollment, an individual who has eligibility remaining may try out with a professional athletics team (or participate in a combine including that team) at any time, provided the individual does not miss class. The individual may receive actual and necessary expenses in conjunction with one 48-hour tryout per professional team (or a combine including that team). The 48-hour tryout period shall begin at the time the individual arrives at the tryout location. At the completion of the 48-hour period, the individual must depart the location of the tryout immediately in order to receive return transportation expenses. A tryout may extend beyond 48 hours if the individual self-finances additional expenses, including return transportation. A self-financed tryout may be for any length of time, provided the individual does not miss class. (Revised: 1/10/92, 4/24/03, 5/26/06, 4/26/07 effective 8/1/07)
22.214.171.124.3 Outside Competition Prohibited. During a tryout, an individual may not take part in any outside competition (games or scrimmages) as a representative of a professional team.
126.96.36.199.2 After Enrollment. In sports other than men’s ice hockey and skiing, after initial full-time
collegiate enrollment, an individual may participate in practice sessions conducted by a professional team,
provided such participation meets the requirements of Bylaw 188.8.131.52 and the individual does not: (Adopted: 4/13/10 effective 8/1/10)
(a) Receive any compensation for participation in the practice sessions;
(b) Enter into any contract or agreement with a professional team or sports organization; or
(c) Take part in any outside competition (games or scrimmages) as a representative of a professional team.
After enrollment, a player can not compete on a professional team. However, they can compete on the same team as "professionals" provided the "professional" does not receive compensation. An example of this would be Nate Jaqua making a few appearances with the Sounders U23's last season.
184.108.40.206.2 Professional Player as Team Member. An individual may participate with a professional on a team, provided the professional is not being paid by a professional team or league to play as a member of that team (e.g., summer basketball leagues with teams composed of both professional and amateur athletes).
One section I found intriguing with respect to MLS academy players is 220.127.116.11 regarding contracts. This is all speculation on my part.
18.104.22.168 Exception—Before Initial Full-Time Collegiate Enrollment—Sports Other Than Men’s Ice Hockey and Skiing. In sports other than men’s ice hockey and skiing, before initial full-time collegiate enrollment, an individual may enter into an agreement to compete on a professional team (per Bylaw 12.02.5), provided the agreement does not guarantee or promise payment (at any time) in excess of actual and necessary expenses to participate on the team. (Adopted: 4/29/10 effective 8/1/10; applicable to student-athletes who initially enroll full time in a collegiate institution on or after 8/1/10)
I wonder if it is possible for an MLS team to sign academy players to some form of contract that allows them to hold their rights. From my understanding, this is not possible. Is it possible for a team to sign academy players to contracts that prevent other professional teams from signing them? I am not even worried about compensation to the MLS team as much as preventing academy players from being poached. You would think if this was possible teams would be doing it already. But 22.214.171.124 still makes me wonder.