Just a week after the NCAA tweaked its agent rules in a way that sure seemed to specifically target Rich Paul for exclusion, the organization has caved, changing the rules a second time to ensure Paul will still be able to represent college basketball players who are testing the waters of the NBA.
The old rule change was a tweak on a transformation last year that allowed players considering the NBA Draft to retain the services of an agent without killing their eligibility. At first, all NBPA agents were fair game, but last week’s new criteria required a bachelor’s degree, among a few other qualifications. The new-new criteria, however, eliminates that controversial requirement that would have excluded Rich Paul, who represents some of the NBA’s best players but never went to college.
“While specific individuals were not considered when developing our process, we respect the NBPA’s determination of qualification and have amended our certification criteria,” the NCAA wrote in its statement—the closest it came to acknowledging the perception that the rule was specifically aimed at Paul.
As soon as the rule change became public last Tuesday, multiple NBA stars tweeted their criticisms—including Paul’s most famous client, LeBron James.
And just this morning, Paul himself wrote an op-ed for the Athletic pointing out that the rule will exclude people from disadvantaged backgrounds—many of whom are people of color—and questioned what exactly a four-year degree was supposed to prove about a person:
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?
What is so extremely NCAA about this sudden flip-flop is that it couldn’t actually get rid of the language requiring a bachelor’s degree. In the release, it now notes that it requires that agents “have a bachelor’s degree and/or are currently certified and in good standing with the NBPA.” That second part, after the and/or, is completely redundant with another part of the rule, which is, “Have NBPA certification for a minimum of three consecutive years.” It’s OK to just admit when you’re wrong!