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Talk of “The Rich Paul Rule” not sitting well with many of his influential clients

Rich Paul

(Photo by Dominique Oliveto/Getty Images for Klutch Sports Group 2019 All Star Weekend)

Rich Paul is an NBA agent with a client list that glimmers. He represents Lebron James, Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons and Draymond Green, which means he can walk into a restaurant any day of the week and order whatever he wants off the menu. The guy makes serious bank.

But that’s not what makes Paul unique. His style bothers people. He is considered by some to be overly intrusive and combustible, willing to bend whatever rules or apply whatever pressure is required to get his players what they want. He majors in disruption.

Why is Davis with the Los Angeles Lakers today? Basically because Lebron asked to play with him and Paul choreographed a trade demand that put the New Orleans Pelicans into an untenable situation.

Ask an NBA general manager what he thinks of Paul and its likely he’ll tell you he’s a force to be reckoned with because he’ll exert whatever pressure is needed to service his clients.

Guys like Paul make the game’s establishment uncomfortable, both at the NBA and collegiate level. They view him as an interloper intent on circumventing the system and that really bothers people.

So it came as no surprise this week that after the NCAA introduced new legislation establishing certification guidelines for agents that the new regulations were dubbed “The Rich Paul Rule.”

ESPN obtained a memo in which the NCAA outlined its suggestion for new criteria for agents. The NCAA wants agents to have a bachelor’s degree, NBPA certification for at least three consecutive years, professional liability insurance and complete an in-person exam taken in early November at the NCAA office in Indianapolis. They must also fill out an application and clear a background check.

Paul didn’t graduate from college. So it’s easy to see why this legislation seems to be pointed at him. If this new initiative becomes law, Paul wouldn’t have been able to represent underclassmen testing the waters before the draft. It would essentially stop guys like Paul from recruiting new clients at a formative time in their lives.

After the news came out, James tweeted derisively: “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop. They BIG MAD and scared. Nothing will stop this movement and culture over here. Sorry! Not sorry.”

Here’s what the NCAA had to say: “Although some can and have been successful without a college degree, as a higher education organization, the NCAA values a college education and continues to emphasize the importance of earning a degree. We were guided by recommendations from the Commission on College Basketball – which spoke with the agent and advisor community – that the NCAA certification process should be more stringent than current processes.

“With this in mind, we benchmarked our new rules against requirements for other organizations that certify agents, like the NBPA, which also requires agents to have a bachelor’s degree. While different and distinct, our rules taken together, which is the manner they were meant to be examined, provide a clear opportunity for our student-athletes to receive excellent advice from knowledgeable professionals on either the college or professional path they choose.”

Agents would also be required to cooperate with the NCAA in investigations of rules violations, “even if the alleged violations are unrelated to their NCAA-agent certification.”

“Men’s basketball student-athletes who are considering careers in professional basketball but who may want to return to school are only permitted to accept permissible agent services from NCAA-certified agents with a signed agent agreement,” the memo stated. “It is important to remember that a men’s basketball student-athlete cannot enter into an agent agreement until after his team’s season has concluded and the student-athlete has requested an evaluation from the NBA undergrad advisory committee.”

Rich Paul

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

If a prospective agent clears the application and background check process, they will be required to take an in-person exam on Nov. 6, the day the 2019-20 college basketball season begins.

James wasn’t the only personality who didn’t take kindly to this news. Comedian Kevin Hart and Chris Paul also chirped about it and because they did the #TheRichPaulRule soon had the honor of trending nationally on Twitter since the three of them combine for almost 90 million followers.

Let’s think about this for a moment. What would be the big problem if the NCAA worked with the NBA to devise some guidelines designed to control who can become an agent? It’s just another way for the organizations to try and weed out who they consider to be potentially unprincipled people looking to take advantage of young players. Shouldn’t a college degree be considered a must before you can do business?

Critics contend its just another way for the NCAA to stick its nose into places it doesn’t belong. They subscribe to the theory that the collegiate governing body has no right to tell players what they can do and who they can associate with. And really, it’s kind of dumb to believe that just because some dude has a Bachelor’s degree he’ll somehow be less inclined to do something illegal or unscrupulous to benefit a client.

If everyone hates Rich Paul so much, they should do something specifically about him now in an attempt to decertify him. Don’t attempt to enact legislation to prevent the next iteration of him from getting into the agent business.