LeBron James blasted the NCAA last week for its new set of rules that requires agents wanting to work with student-athletes to adhere to a specific set of criteria. His agent, who many believe the rule targeted, responded Monday.
Rich Paul is the CEO and founder of Klutch Sports, the agency that represents James and his fellow Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis among other NBA players, penned an op-ed for The Athletic and said that while he is flattered the measure is being referred to as "The Rich Paul Rule," it's not necessarily accurate.
"It has no impact on me or the business of Klutch Sports Group," he wrote. "However, it does have a significant impact on people like me, and the NCAA should be called out for it."
Agent Rich Paul (right) talks with 76ers guard Ben Simmons after a game against the Cavaliers last season. (Photo: Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports)
The NCAA's criteria includes making a bachelor's degree mandatory (Paul does not have one), passing an in-person exam at the NCAA office in Indianapolis and professional liability insurance.
Paul agrees with the criticism levied at the NCAA, which derives from the thinking that the organization is trying to make it more difficult for those with less access to education to take on roles in the business side of basketball.
"The harmful consequences of this decision will ricochet onto others who are trying to break in," he wrote. "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.
"Does anyone really believe a four-year degree is what separates an ethical person from a con artist?"
Paul also wrote that he supports requiring three years of experience before representing a student-athlete testing the professional market and could possibly get behind the testing aspect of the rule.
As far as earning a degree, Paul suggested the NCAA partnering with universities for a one-year program interested individuals can participate in if attaining a four-year degree is untenable.
"No matter the result, what I’m focused on is helping aspiring agents and players figure out the best path forward for them so they can earn a living and be blessed with opportunities like I have," Paul wrote. "Hopefully, the NCAA will help foster a system that will allow for that as well."
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