Unless you live under a rock with no TV or wi-fi, you’ve heard about the new guidelines set forth by the NCAA. The general feeling is that there was racial motivation behind making these new rules. More specifically, the feeling is that they were aimed specifically at Rich Paul. If either is the case, the powers that be missed their mark.
I don’t feel like this is the dropping of some atomic bomb of oppression many are making it out to be. I also don’t think this is the NCAA sending a sniper out into the field and putting Paul in their crosshairs either. To me, this is just supreme pettiness of the highest order. It’s the NCAA exercising the extremely minimal control they have in this situation. Let’s all be honest here, this isn’t going to affect Rich Paul. The players he will be aiming to represent out of college isn’t going to be the “testing the waters” crew. And even if he decided to, once you sign to Klutch Sports you are no longer testing the waters. Rich Paul isn’t taking on projects. That doesn’t fit the Klutch Sports dynamic. They go after the heavy hitters. If the NCAA was aiming to limit Paul in some way, they should have done more research.
We have to look at this realistically. You can’t possibly compare a handful of players who think they might want to consider going pro to the caliber of players of which Paul has associated himself. The effects of these modifications won’t ever darken Paul’s doorstep. They won’t even infiltrate his neighborhood. Rich Paul operates at a level that is well beyond the lower rungs of the talent ladder of NBA hopefuls. I’m not sure if that direct association would have ever been made had it not been brought to the forefront. Immediately attaching this to Klutch was extremely brilliant and calculated. With a person as intelligent as Paul and a client as brand conscious as LeBron James, they saw an opportunity for some positive publicity and more importantly, an opportunity to corral the public in their favor. LeBron and Paul came off a pretty controversial year. They were not painted in the best light in the wake of the Anthony Davis saga. LeBron didn’t have his best year on the court either. He missed the playoffs and missed significant time due to injury for the first time in his career. People had also been talking unfavorably about his antics at Bronny’s AAU games. The NCAA couldn’t have been stupid at a more perfect time for them. Nothing negative regarding James or Paul has been mentioned since the announcement of the new requirements and the backlash has caused the NCAA to amend the qualifications not even a week after they were implemented. Many athletes spoke out against the rules and Paul addressed it in an article in The Athletic. On the surface, there are definitely some parallels that can be drawn between the rules and Paul. But that’s where it ends. When you look at Rich Paul then you look at these parameters and the clientele it affects, there isn’t much correlation at all.
Any conversation surrounding the wrongdoing of the NCAA (or anything else in this country for that matter but that’s a conversation for another day) will always circle back to race and rightfully so. It is a racial issue. The massive success and profitability of the NCAA is mainly due to sports that are dominated by African-American athletes. And ironically, it is in these sports that the NCAA tries to keep athletes from making money for themselves and making money for the establishment as long as they possibly can. This recent activity is a proverbial rain drop in the torrential downpour of nastiness from the NCAA. If this is the thing that pisses you off then you really haven’t been paying attention. I wish this was the pinnacle of limitations aimed at Black people in the collegiate sports world. I’m not saying it’s right or that I agree but let’s not act like they just instituted the equivalent Jim Crow Laws in the NCAA.
Here’s what we have to be honest about in this whole ordeal, any agent they were trying to limit or hold back wasn’t going to reach Rich Paul’s level of success anyway. How may agents get to represent one of the best players in the world with one of the biggest brands in the world? Paul’s association with LeBron gets him access many others only dream of. His own business acumen and skill set allows him to maximize the opportunities he’s afforded by that association. Are there any aspiring agents out there who are as potentially sharp as Paul? I’m sure there are. But that situation is unique. And if any of these would be agents want to achieve major success they won’t get it by representing a dude that’s thinking about going back to campus in the fall. To reach Paul’s level of success, you need a transcendent player. To say that the NCAA is trying to stop the next Rich Paul by denying them access to the least desirable players of each draft class doesn’t make much sense. Literally everything else they’ve done is trying to stop the next Rich Paul or LeBron James.
We’re really letting the NCAA off easy by making such a huge deal of this. If we want to hold them responsible for how they treat people of color in their organization we should ask why only black assistant coaches get caught up in recruiting scandals and the white head coaches escape the guillotine. We should ask why football and basketball have the most strict parameters surrounding advancement to the post-collegiate level. These are much more troubling things to me than telling someone they can’t represent CJ Elleby unless they have a bachelor’s degree. The fact that many of you have no idea who CJ Elleby is, I’d actually be willing to bet that no one reading this knows who CJ Elleby is, proves my point.