The NCAA has backtracked on new certification standards and will no longer require a bachelor’s degree for a sports agent to represent Division I men’s basketball players who declare for the NBA draft while maintaining college eligibility.
The requirement drew criticism last week when the certification standards were revealed, including a social media blast by NBA star LeBron James. The requirement was quickly dubbed the “Rich Paul Rule” in reference to James’ agent, who does not have a college degree.
The Indianapolis-based NCAA announced Monday it would amend the standards so bachelor’s degrees would not be required for agents currently certified and in good standing with the NBA players union. The NCAA had said last week it modeled its rules after those of the National Basketball Players Association.
“We have been made aware of several current agents who have appropriately represented former student-athletes in their professional quest and whom the (NBPA) has granted waivers of its bachelor’s degree requirement,” the NCAA said in a statement. “While specific individuals were not considered when developing our process, we respect the NBPA’s determination of qualification and have amended our certification criteria.”
The NCAA rule permitting players to obtain an agent yet still return to school after withdrawing from the draft was part of recommendations from the Condoleezza Rice-led Commission on College Basketball, which was formed in response to a federal corruption investigation into the sport.
The change took place last August, and the first players to take advantage of the rule did so in the spring. They were permitted to sign with an agent certified by the NBPA—which was the stopgap standard until the NCAA put together its own certification requirements—though they had to terminate the deal if they decided to withdraw from the draft and return to school.
The amended policy still requires the agent to be certified by the NBPA for at least three consecutive years, as well as taking an in-person examination, going through a background check and paying required fees. In its release last week, the NCAA said agents would pay a $250 application fee and an annual $1,250 certification fee separate from NBPA certification requirements.