NCAA raises bar for criteria of agents representing players who want to test waters of NBA Draft

A new NCAA amendment to the criteria for agents angling to represent college basketball players testing the NBA Draft process is being dubbed the "Rich Paul Rule" by many. The criteria, which was reported by CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein, requires that agents must have completed these three hurdles before representing student-athletes in their venture to explore the NBA Draft process: 

  • must have a a Bachelor's degree
  • must have been certified by the NBPA for at least three years, and 
  • must pass an in-person exam at the NCAA office in Indianapolis.

The new criteria notably excludes NBA super-agent Rich Paul, hence his ironic nickname-bearing of the rule. Paul founded Klutch Sports and represents LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons and Draymond Green, among many others. Not only is he one of the big movers and shakers in the player representation business, but he's thriving despite never getting his college degree.

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic reported the NCAA sent a memo sent to agents on Monday regarding the new changes. And it is for this reason: the NCAA refers to its motivation in such changes as a response to "protect the collegiate eligibility of their athlete clients." The inclusion of the word client -- yikes.

Student-athletes seeking to test the NBA Draft process may still do so under recent NCAA rules while still leaving the door open to returning to school, but this rule could have one unintended consequence. If Paul -- or any other agent in the game to land a players' services that don't meet the NCAA's new criteria -- wind up luring in a player, that player may be more inclined to instead bail altogether and willingly forfeit their right to return to school. It's a choice they would make willingly because of this legislation, and that is their right, but limiting the options of student-athletes, as the NCAA has done in this case, is the opposite of "protecting the eligibility of client athletes" as they say they set out to do here.

The fallout of this new rule could be miniscule or major -- time will tell if it ultimately makes any real difference when it comes to players choosing their representation -- but in the end it feels like a backtrack of progress that in the end will only limit the options of student-athletes. And isn't that exactly what the NCAA should be trying to fight against?

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