The NCAA finalized a new agent-certification process last week designed to prevent a man or woman without a bachelor’s degree from representing players testing the waters of the NBA Draft even if the person in question is an agent certified by the NBPA. As you probably know, LeBron James quickly labeled it #TheRichPaulRule on Twitter because, in theory, it’s a rule that would’ve prevented one of basketball’s most powerful agents from the process due to the fact that Rich Paul never graduated college.
Was the rule really designed to harm Rich Paul?
In a word, no.
by me and many others, when it was first reported — then again when the NCAA issued an explanation, and then again when the NCAA had to update its initial explanation because it was factually inaccurate., the rule would’ve had no impact on him or the business of his agency — Klutch Sports Group — because he and his agency don’t really work with test-the-water type athletes. They are, at this point, well beyond that. Regardless, thanks to The King’s tweet, Paul became the face of the rule that immediately created a public-relations nightmare for the NCAA because it was the latest example of the governing body trying to control something it shouldn’t be controlling, and, in some people’s eyes, the rule also had racial overtones. So it was broadly criticized,
Such a mess.
But give the NCAA credit.
On Monday afternoon, less than a week after LeBron James interrupted #TacoTuesday to bring attention to the subject, and just six hours after Rich Paul’s op-ed published, the NCAA announced that it isto allow agents without bachelor’s degrees to represent players testing the waters provided they are certified by, and in good standing with, the NBPA. In other words, NCAA officials publicly admitted a mistake and fixed it. Swiftly. And, for that, I applaud them. Sincerely.
Now let’s see if the NCAA can learn from its mistake.
Because the root of the mistake is that the NCAA once again acted on recommendations from the Commission on College Basketball — which features former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and a bunch of other successful folks who might be brilliant in general but understand very little about the inner-workings of college basketball. To date, they’veand solved not a single problem they were assembled to solve because, and I type this as respectfully as possible, they just don’t know what they’re doing.
The next mistake the NCAA should admit is the Commission on College Basketball itself.
The Commission on College Basketball was formed as a response to the FBI investigation that placed a negative light on the sport — but good luck trying to find anybody who thinks they’ve accomplished much. Truth is, they’ve done more harm than good. They’ve broken more things than they’ve fixed. They’ve taken an imperfect system and made it less perfect. And, at some point, and sooner rather than later, the NCAA must move them to the side, let them disappear, and start taking recommendations from people who actually understand the issues within college basketball and possess thoughtful ideas about how to fix them.