On Tuesday afternoon, Jon Rothstein dropped a bomb on Twitter about the NCAA adding criteria for agents to be eligible to represent student-athletes who are entering the NBA Draft.
The new rules states agents must have a Bachelor’s Degree, be certified with the NBPA for at least three years and take an in-person exam at the NCAA Office in Indianapolis, according to Rothstein.
Many quickly read between the lines of the new rule to see one specific agent, among the most powerful in the business, who this would have repercussions against: Rich Paul, LeBron James’ agent, who has become a force in the league and recently graced the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Paul does not have his Bachelor’s Degree. To people against the rule, it is a way to target the agent and prevent others with similar talents but lack of credentials from gaining entrance with college players.
R.J. Hampton, who graduated high school in 2019 but chose to play basketball in New Zealand instead of the NCAA, weighed in with a short but powerful tweet.
This is why..I chose to..nvm. The hate is real 🤦🏽♂️ https://t.co/kZbCgIT7XJ
— 14 (@RjHampton14) August 7, 2019
Players are allowed to hire agents early in the NBA Draft process as they begin to figure out the range they would likely be selected. There is a time period that allows them to withdraw from the draft and retain NCAA eligibility.
This rule would make it impossible for those players to hire agents like Paul, which could in turn shut those agents out of the business.
Hampton sees this as another example of corruption in the NCAA.
With FBI investigations into college programs, coaches being jailed for breaking recruiting rules and more public voices advocating for paying players or allowing them to make money off their likeness, there have been more elite basketball players turning to other options.
Basketball players like Hampton and Kenyon Martin Jr. chose to play overseas. Darius Bazley took an internship with New Balance and was paid $1 million — and, maybe not coincidentally, the agent who helped him set that up was Rich Paul.
Hampton clearly sees issue with the NCAA’s new criteria for agents who can represent players who are considering going through the draft process.
Will this affect the decisions of more elite high school athletes?