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'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,' says Rich Paul on NCAA's new rules

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23   //    13 Aug 2019, 12:31 IST

Rich Paul in a Utah Jazz-Los Angeles Lakers game
Rich Paul in a Utah Jazz-Los Angeles Lakers game

Agent Rich Paul, founder and CEO of Klutch Sports, recently wrote an op-ed regarding NCAA's new rules for student-athletes who wish to join the NBA draft. Paul, who is famously known for being LeBron James' long-time friend and agent, also represents several other prominent NBA players including Anthony Davis, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Draymond Green, and Ben Simmons.

Paul writes:

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,

It was just last year that the NCAA allowed student-athletes to hire an agent for the NBA Draft and return to school without losing their eligibility if they weren't drafted. However, just last week, they laid out more specific restrictions about the agents that are eligible.

In essence, college basketball players can only hire an agent who:

  • Has a bachelor’s degree
  • Has been certified by the NBPA for the last three years
  • Passes an in-person exam administered at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis

Several NBA players were then quick to dub these new restrictions as the 'Rich Paul Rule,' as agents and professionals like Paul, who grew up in a disadvantaged environment, did not go to college but are successful.

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He continues:

Does anyone really believe a four-year degree is what separates an ethical person from a con artist? Let’s also be clear that once the NCAA requires a four-year degree for athletes “testing the waters,” it’s only a matter of time until this idea is socialized, no longer questioned, and then more broadly applied. We all know how this works. Unfair policy is introduced incrementally so people accept it because it only affects a small group,

Paul also suggests partnering with universities on programs that will help people meet certain requirements and tapping existing agents to mentor those who are trying to "break in." He further emphasizes:

The barriers to entry for the next Rich Paul are already high enough. When I travel back to neighborhoods like the inner city of Greater Cleveland where I’m from, young black kids tell me that they see my career as another path for them out of their troubled surroundings...So if the NCAA is invested both in helping young people get the education they need and in supporting student-athletes, like they claim, then we are on common ground.

He ended by encouraging all people of backgrounds and race to continue striving for greatness despite whatever barriers the system puts in place.

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