Rich Paul issues response to NCAA supposedly creating rule for him
A lot has been made of the NCAA introducing new criteria for agents who want to represent student-athletes testing the NBA Draft waters, and many are calling it “The Rich Paul Rule.” On Monday, the man who allegedly inspired the rule issued a lengthy response.
Paul, who represents LeBron James and several other NBA stars, wrote a guest column for The Athletic in which he began by saying he does not believe the new criteria were put in place specifically for him. However, he was highly critical of the NCAA for thinking agents who have a four-year degree are any more qualified to represent young athletes than those who don’t, such as himself.
“I actually support requiring three years of experience before representing a kid testing the market. I can even get behind passing a test,” Paul wrote. “However, requiring a four-year degree accomplishes only one thing — systematically excluding those who come from a world where college is unrealistic.”
“Does anyone really believe a four-year degree is what separates an ethical person from a con artist?”
Paul does not have a college degree, but he has quickly become one of the most successful agents in basketball and has a client roster that includes LeBron, Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons, Draymond Green and John Wall. He said he has had numerous young black kids from the Greater Cleveland area where he grew up tell him he has shown them there is another career path they can use to leave their “troubled surroundings,” and he feels the NCAA’s new guidelines create barriers for people in those situations.
“Respectfully, how do four years studying sports marketing in a classroom make you more qualified to represent a kid than working at Klutch Sports Group or for an NBA front office; or at any other entrepreneurial business for that matter?” Paul wrote. “All this will do is exclude the agents whose life experience helps them understand the needs of many of these players best.”
The NCAA has defended its reasoning behind the new policy, so it does not sound like it is going to change. At least one NBA executive has also denied that the new rules were created for Paul, but many feel what happened between Paul and former Syracuse commit Darius Bazley helped inspire the change. Even if it wasn’t the primary motivation, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t a factor.