Rich Paul, founder and CEO of Klutch Sports Group, said that while it’s “flattering” that the NCAA’s new agent provisions are being called the “Rich Paul Rule,” he’s more concerned about the greater impact the new criteria will have.
Colloquially dubbed the “Rich Paul Rule,” the memo, obtained by ESPN, outlines new criteria for agents interested in representing players testing the NBA draft waters: a bachelor’s degree, NBPA certification for at least three consecutive years, professional liability insurance and completion of an in-person exam taken in early November at the NCAA office in Indianapolis.
“The harmful consequences of this decision will ricochet onto others who are trying to break in,” Paul said in an op-ed for The Athletic. “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.
“I actually support requiring three years of experience before representing a kid testing the market. I can even get behind passing a test. 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?”
Though he does not have a bachelor’s degree, Paul’s Klutch Sports represents LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons, Draymond Green, John Wall and other NBA players.
Last year, Paul began representing Darius Bazley after the No. 13 prospect in the Class of 2018 decommitted from Syracuse. The plan had been for Bazley to play in the G League, but instead, under Paul’s direction, he landed a $1 million internship at New Balance and spent the year training for the NBA draft.
Bazley went No. 23 overall to the Utah Jazz but has since landed on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“To be honest, I have no idea whether the NCAA adopted the new rule specifically because of my work with Darius Bazley, as people have speculated, or if it is because they know there are more and more people like me fighting for their chance and challenging this antiquated system,” Paul said.
Paul said he’s worried the new stipulations will present a road block for people like himself that come from more challenging backgrounds to get to his level of success in the field.
“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,” Paul said. “They want to grow up to do what I do. That inspires me.”
In the op-ed, Paul offered suggestions to how the NCAA could still reach its stated goals while being less exclusionary with its policies.
“Why (doesn’t the NCAA) partner with universities on a one-year program for agents who don’t meet their requirements but want to learn the business? Or work with existing agents who play by the rules to help mentor those who are trying to ‘break in,'” Paul suggested.
He ended his op-ed with his own take on a hashtag popularized by friend and client James: “#MoreThanAnAgent”.
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