Rich Paul, the founder and CEO of Klutch Sports Group, penned an op-ed in The Athletic on Monday laying bare the issues that he has with the so-called ‘Rich Paul Rule.’
Last week, the NCAA sent out a memo, which was obtained by NBC Sports, to NBPA-certified agents that alerted them to the criteria to be eligible to represent athletes that are testing the waters: a bachelor’s degree, three consecutive years of NBPA certification, the completion of an in-person exam at the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis and professional liability insurance.
Paul, who represents LeBron James, Anthony Davis, John Wall, Draymond Green and Ben Simmons among his more than 20 NBA clients, said it was “flattering” that the rules changes have been colloquially dubbed the ‘Rich Paul Rule,’ but added that “it has no impact on me or the business of Klutch Sports Group” but “it does have a significant impact on people like me and the NCAA should be called out for it.”
“I actually support requiring three years of experience before representing a kid testing the market,” he added. “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.”
Paul’s issue with the rule changes is more or less in line with the column I penned on the subject last week. Simply having a bachelor’s degree is not an adequate way to determine who is a legitimate, business-savvy agent and who is a con artist. Paul does not have a college degree. The he agent that bankrolled Christian Dawkins and was at the center of the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball – you know, the thing that created this change in the rules – was Andy Miller. He does have a college degree.
The truth is that in an era where it costs six figures to go to college and where student loans have crippled the financial well-being of an entire generation of Americans, the ability to obtain a degree 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.
“How do four years studying sports marketing in a classroom make you more qualified to represent a kid than working at Klutch Sports Group or for an NBA front office; or at any other entrepreneurial business for that matter?” Paul wrote. It’s important to note here that while the NBA requires a bachelor’s degree to become a certified agent, there are workarounds for people that have adequate work and life experience and can prove. “All this will do is exclude the agents whose life experience helps them understand the needs of many of these players best.
“The barriers to entry for the next Rich Paul are already high enough. 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. They want to grow up to do what I do. That inspires me. 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.”