Rich Paul next to LeBron (Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

‘Rich Paul Rules’: NCAA criteria for agents of NBA draft hopefuls poorly thought out

2 Comments

The NCAA sent a memo to agents on Monday that detailed a new certification process and a series of requirements that will be necessary in order to represent players as they test the NBA draft waters.

The memo, which was obtained by NBC Sports, states that the NCAA will require applicants to have “a bachelor’s degree, be in good standing with the NBPA, have been NBPA certified for a minimum of three consecutive years and maintain professional liability insurance.” The agents will also be required to submit to a background check, pay a non-refundable $250 fee and complete an in-person exam on Wednesday, November 6th, at the NCAA’s offices in Indianapolis.

Within the application itself, sources told NBC Sports, is language stating that applicants will not be certified unless they agree to cooperate will all NCAA investigations regardless of whether or not they involve that specific agent’s certification.

The NCAA opted to allow players testing the waters to have access to representation as part of the changes that were enacted by Condoleeza Rice’s Commission on College Basketball. The players that test the waters are only allowed to return to school with eligibility intact if they accept “permissible agent services from NCAA certified agents with a signed agent agreement.”

It’s worth noting here that one of the most powerful agents in basketball, Rich Paul, does not have a bachelor’s degree. Paul represented Darius Bazley, who initially committed to Syracuse before withdrawing and, after flirting with playing a year in the G League, decided to sit out this past season. He was paid $1 million for an internship with New Balance before getting selected with the 23rd pick in the 2019 draft. There are ways to get around the bachelor degree loophole – like, for instance, hiring an agent with a degree to get a player under that agency’s umbrella – but the NCAA isn’t targeting Paul of Klutch Sports with this rule. They’re targeting the next Rich Paul.

College players that are making the decision of what they want to do with their future need to advice and representation of people that are qualified. That’s obvious. But it is worth noting that the ability to obtain a degree in this day and age has much to do with privilege, economic status and the family you were born into as it does your ability to think critically, understand the NBA’s CBA or be able to negotiate a contract. If anything, Rich Paul proved that.

Hell, the NBPA doesn’t even require a bachelor’s degree for certification. They have minimum degree requirements, but they also have a work-around in their rules if an applicant can prove that they have enough work and real life experience to justify certification. There is even an FAQ on the NBPA’s site about this very subject.

And the truth is that the NCAA shouldn’t have requirements that are more strict than the NBA’s. Hell, the NCAA probably shouldn’t be in the game of approving whether or not an agent is qualified. That’s not what they are designed to do. The NBA Players’ Association is, and certification with the NBPA should be enough.

The truth is this: Agents should have to apply with the NCAA so the NCAA has a record of who is representing players. They should also have to fill out some kind of form or questionnaire to prove that they – or, at the very least, someone in their office – understand what the specific NCAA bylaws are. If the NCAA thinks that’s worth charging a $250 processing fee, I can even get on board with that, too.

But by putting together a list of criteria this strict is only going to make NBA agents laugh at the idea of getting NCAA certified. One agent that NBC Sports reached out to simply deleted the memo as soon as he received it. “It’s gone,” he said.

And if agents aren’t going to take the certification process seriously, underclassmen are just going to be told to leave early without actually testing the waters. That, in turn, will make the early entry drain on college basketball’s talent level just that much quicker.

But hey, at least those television contracts are guaranteed, am I right?

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
7 Comments

LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

Getty Images
4 Comments

The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.