The 6-foot-7 junior, who came to Indiana to play basketball and finished as a third-team All-America football selection by The Associated Press, said Friday he had "reached the pinnacle" of his college career.
"Therefore, I have decided to forgo my senior year and declare myself eligible for the NFL draft," he said in a statement released by the school.
Hardy finished with 191 receptions for 2,740 yards and 36 touchdowns, all IU career receiving records. He also set season records this year with 79 catches and 16 touchdowns and helped the Hoosiers (7-6) to their first bowl appearance in 14 years, a 49-33 loss to Oklahoma State in the Insight Bowl on Monday.
He also was a first-team All-Big Ten selection.
"We appreciate everything James has contributed to Indiana University," coach Bill Lynch said. "It has been amazing watching him grow not only as a football player, but also as a man. James leaves Indiana as the greatest wide receiver in school history and we wish him all of the best in the NFL."
His 16 touchdown receptions this year ranked second in the nation, and he caught at least one touchdown pass in a record 11 of the Hoosiers' 13 games.
Hardy played only two seasons of high school football at Fort Wayne Elmhurst but was a first-team AP All-State selection in basketball. After playing both sports as a freshman at Indiana, he gave up basketball to concentrate solely on football.
He had more than 100 yards receiving in each of his first two games and in five of his first six games in 2005. He finished that season with 61 catches for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns, then in the offseason he was arrested in Fort Wayne for domestic battery, charge that was later dismissed through a diversion program.
He came back the next season, and despite a two-game suspension imposed by the late coach Terry Hoeppner and a midseason quarterback change, Hardy finished with 51 receptions for 722 yards and 10 TDs.
He considered leaving for the NFL at that time, but he returned for his third season with a renewed commitment.
"Having a full year to focus on football has helped me tremendously," he said at the start of the 2007 season. "No matter what I accomplish, I'm never satisfied now. I will continue to work hard no matter what comes my way."