NCAA Explains New Agent Rule After LeBron James, Chris Paul Criticize Change

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2019

FILE - In this March 18, 2015, file photo, the NCAA logo is at center court as work continues at The Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, for the NCAA college basketball second and third round games. Bank records and other expense reports that are part of a federal probe into college basketball list a wide range of impermissible payments from agents to at least two dozen players or their relatives, according to documents obtained by Yahoo Sports. Yahoo said Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, that the documents obtained in discovery during the investigation link current players including Michigan State's Miles Bridges, Duke's Wendell Carter and Alabama's Collin Sexton to potential benefits that would be violations of NCAA rules. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

The NCAA recently implemented the so-called Rich Paul Rule, which requires agents looking to represent student-athletes to have obtained at least a bachelor's degree, among other criteria.

The NCAA subsequently issued a statement on its new policy Wednesday:

Inside the NCAA @InsidetheNCAA

NCAA statement on agent certification requirements: https://t.co/MRy7Xg4Y7r

According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, the new rules require not only a bachelor's degree but also at least three years of NBPA certification as well as an in-person exam at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.

Per Jeff Borzello of ESPN, agents must also "agree to cooperate with the NCAA in connection with its investigation and analysis of possible rules violations, even if the alleged violations are unrelated to [their] NCAA-agent certification."

The NCAA said in a memo the new rules, which went into effect on Aug. 1, were implemented "to protect the collegiate eligibility" of the student-athletes, via The Athletic's Sam Vecenie:

Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie

Here is the memo that was sent to agents yesterday regarding the new rules for representing clients that are “testing the waters for the NBA Draft.” The NCAA refers to it as “protecting the eligibility of their client athletes.” Yeah, this is a bad look for the NCAA. https://t.co/JhzN1c6NyJ

The new rules got the attention of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, who went from high school straight to the NBA, and the Oklahoma City Thunder's Chris Paul:

LeBron James @KingJames


LeBron James @KingJames

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop! They BIG MAD 😡 and Scared 😱. Nothing will stop this movement and culture over here. Sorry! Not sorry. 😁✌🏾

Chris Paul @CP3

I COMPLETELY disagree with the NCAA’s decision. Some life experiences are as valuable, if not more, than diplomas... Y’all need to rethink this process. This is crazy!

It's worth noting that, per Rothstein, the new rules exclude Klutch Sports' Rich Paul, who does not have a bachelor's degree. Paul has a number of high-profile clients, including James, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, John Wall and Ben Simmons.

As Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix pointed out, Paul has taken the basketball world by storm without a degree:

Chris Mannix @SIChrisMannix

Whatever you think of an agent like Rich Paul, the suggestion he would be more qualified if he had a bachelor's degree is ludicrous. Life/work experience is what makes a good agent. Would all agents be better if they took economics classes and spent four years playing beer pong?

The new rules could potentially prevent agents from signing the top NBA prospects in the future. Then again, it's also possible the top talent won't be going the NCAA route at some point down the road.

Back in February, USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt reported the NBA officially proposed a rule change that would lower the draft-eligibility age down to 18 years old. Not to mention the fact that notable recruits RJ Hampton and Kenyon Martin Jr. have opted to head overseas rather than play in the NCAA, which could ultimately lead to others following in their footsteps.