The NCAA recently made a major splash by laying out a list of requirements for agents that intend on representing college athletes.
In order for an agent to be approved for athletes that wish to explore professional options but want to maintain eligibility, an agent must:
- Must have 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.
There was immediate backlash to this policy, as many believed it was aimed at a few specific agents, namely Rich Paul who famously represents Lakers forward LeBron James. It quickly became known as the “Rich Paul Rule,” and it was attacked by just about everyone in the athletic representation world.
“The harmful consequences of this decision will ricochet onto others who are trying to break in,” Rich Paul wrote in an op-ed for The Athletic that was published Monday morning. “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.”
As of Monday afternoon, however, the NCAA decided to walk back their decision and add room for flexibility when granting approval to agents. This was their official statement:
“We are committed to providing student-athletes who are deciding whether to stay in school or explore NBA draft options with access to a wide array of resources to make their decision. NCAA member schools developed the new agent certification process to accomplish that goal and reflect our higher education mission. However, we have been made aware of several current agents who have appropriately represented former student-athletes in their professional quest and whom the National Basketball Players Association has granted waivers of its bachelor’s degree requirement. While specific individuals were not considered when developing our process, we respect the NBPA’s determination of qualification and have amended our certification criteria.”
This new language allows for the approval of agents that receive a waiver from the NBPA even if they do not have a bachelor’s degree. The NCAA’s new policy it more is more in line with the NBA’s expectations, and they believe this will give student-athletes more options in their representation, including Rich Paul.