UPDATED 2:15 p.m. EST: The NCAA has amended its agent certification requirements in the wake of the controversy surrounding the "Rich Paul Rule." According to a statement released by the NCAA, those individuals representing athletes will no longer be required to possess a bachelor's degree as long as they're certified by the NBPA.
See original story below.
LeBron James shocked the world when he decided to hire close friend Rich Paul as his agent. Since then, Paul has proved the doubters wrong en route to becoming one of the most polarizing figures in sports. This has resulted in organizations enacting rules that try to limit his reach. While these regulations may not directly impact Paul's Klutch Sports Group, he does think they will affect those that want to follow in his footsteps.
"The media is calling it 'The Rich Paul Rule,' which, while incredibly flattering, is not accurate. It has no impact on me or the business of Klutch Sports Group," Paul explains. "However, it does have a significant impact on people like me, and the NCAA should be called out for it."
Last week, the NCAA announced new criteria for agents who want to represent players looking to enter the NBA draft. According to a memo obtained by ESPN, interested agents must have "a bachelor's degree, National Basketball Players Association 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."
This sparked some concern around the league. Rich Paul has gone from selling jerseys to being one of the most recognizable agents in sports. And he did it without a college degree. Many players and fans felt like this rule was created because of the way Paul's unconventional business tactics have taken the NBA by storm. Although Paul admits that he doesn't know why the rule was drafted, he still attacks the butterfly effect it will create.
"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," Paul wrote.
"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," he continued. "The barriers to entry for the next Rich Paul are already high enough."
Since the rule has been announced, several athletes and critics have spoken out against the NCAA's decision. Rich Paul and Klutch Sports have now transformed their "#MoreThanAnAthlete" tagline into "#MoreThanAnAgent" in hopes to show how important Rich's presence is for future generations.
"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. "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."