Rich Paul: New NCAA agent rules won’t affect me, will exclude others without viable path to degree

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The NCAA implemented new requirements for agents representing basketball players testing the waters of the NBA draft:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Three years of experience
  • NCAA-issued exam
  • $250 application fee

The degree requirement made many think of Rich Paul. Paul didn’t graduate from college, but he has grown into a powerful agent whose clientele includes LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, John Wall and Ben Simmons.

Paul in The Athletic:

The media is calling it “The Rich Paul Rule,” which, while incredibly flattering, is not accurate. It has no impact on me or the business of Klutch Sports Group. However, it does have a significant impact on people like me, and the NCAA should be called out for it.

The harmful consequences of this decision will ricochet onto others who are trying to break in. NCAA executives are once again preventing young people from less prestigious backgrounds, and often people of color, from working in the system they continue to control.  In this case, the people being locked out are kids who aspire to be an agent and work in the NBA and do not have the resources, opportunity or desire to get a four-year degree.

I actually support requiring three years of experience before representing a kid testing the market. I can even get behind passing a test. However, requiring a four-year degree accomplishes only one thing — systematically excluding those who come from a world where college is unrealistic.

These rules are typical of the NCAA’s overbearing paternalism and self-enrichment. The organization deserves every bit of scorn coming its way.

Paul’s message of who gets hurt by these regulations is especially important. It’s the most marginalized people.

Paul no longer fits that description like he once did. He made it. He’s rich and successful. He could find someone in his agency with a bachelor’s degree to get certified. It’s the next Rich Paul who suffers. I respect him speaking out on something that’s not his problem.

These barriers to entry are actually good for established agents. It’s helpful for people already in the game to keep out potential future competition. In that regard, I find Paul’s support of the three-year requirement curious. That’s a bar he has already cleared.

The National Basketball Players Association certifies agents. I have yet to see a good argument why the union’s requirements shouldn’t be sufficient.