Updated: Aug 8, 2019
LeBron James lit into the NCAA over a new policy that would limit Rich Paul's ability to gain clients.
A new NCAA policy requiring agents advising prospective NBA players to have college degrees has some wondering if Rich Paul is the target.
Count LeBron James among them.
The Los Angeles Lakers star and friend, client and business partner of Paul slammed the rule on Twitter on Tuesday, dubbing it “The Rich Paul Rule” while labeling the NCAA as “BIG MAD and Scared.”
NCAA requires agents to have bachelor’s degree
NCAA basketball players are currently allowed to declare for the draft and hire an agent as a consultant and still maintain their college eligibility if they decide against turning pro.
On Tuesday, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein reported that the NCAA placed eligibility restrictions on who qualifies to represent those prospective NBA players. One of those rules disqualifies Paul.
Paul doesn’t have degree
Paul doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree. He famously built his career after he met LeBron James at an Ohio airport while selling throwback jerseys out of his car. James bought some of his jerseys, and the two built a friendship and professional relationship.
Now Paul represents James, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green and Ben Simmonsamong several other high-profile NBA clients.
Another power play from James
James has regularly wielded his power and influence in the NBA since taking the league by storm as a rookie in 2003.
He helped catalyze the shift of power on the player movement front from ownership and management when he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh conspired to create a superteam with the Miami Heat in 2010.
He’s wrested control of his narrative through the influence of his own media outlets like his HBO show “The Shop,” an effort that’s been a collaborative push alongside Paul.
And now James is challenging the very NCAA he shunned out of high school when he jumped straight to the NBA, laughing at the perceived efforts of the organization to slow down his and Paul’s movement.
James helped facilitate the rise of Rich Paul from a guy without a degree sharing a one-bedroom with his siblings to become one of the most powerful men in sports. He’s not scared of the NCAA.
Did NCAA target Paul?
Per the new NCAA rule, Paul is not eligible to advise NCAA players who wish to maintain their college eligibility.
Did the NCAA specifically have Paul in mind when they set these new criteria? Who knows?
It’s unclear why the NCAA would specifically target Paul. His clientele tend to have higher profiles than borderline NBA prospects.
The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie obtained a copy of the NCAA memo detailing the new requirements, confirming the original report.
From the memo:
“All applicants are required 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.”
That clearly excludes Paul, whether he was an intended target or not.
What is clear is that the NCAA is flexing more power over student athletes, which the organization refers to in the memo under these circumstances as “athlete clients” in the context of their relationship with prospective agents.