Notre Dame Basketball

Agent: NCAA Fixed The Optics But Not The Problem

August 8, 2018
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It’s not a secret that college basketball has been under the microscope over the last year with athletes and families receiving benefits deemed illegal by the NCAA. 

The NCAA opened up the doors to more criticism on Wednesday as several new rules were announced. 

NCAA Basketball Rule Changes 

With the new rule changes, I reached out to an NBA agent to get his thoughts on the changes but also the impact they would have on the landscape of college basketball. 

“All the stuff that people were getting in trouble, people are going to do now, and it’s legal,” stated the agent. “It’s not going to fix anything. It’s going to be dirtier. It’s going to be an arms war.

“It was like they didn’t like the bad headlines, so they made the bad headlines within the rules. It’s out of control. I’m not a big fan.” 

Perhaps one of the most interesting developments will be elite high school prospects can be represented by an agent. 

Pending a decision by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, high school basketball players can be represented by an agent beginning July 1 before their senior year in high school, provided they have been identified as an elite senior prospect by USA Basketball.

The agent I spoke with didn’t think the principle was a significant issue as agents were already recruiting top high school prospects.  

“The rule for the elite recruits isn’t that big of a deal,” the agent said. “Those three or four kids were going to be recruited by agents in high school already. Top 5 prospects - agents have been all over those guys for at least a year.” 

However, the problem will now lie within who is determined an ‘elite prospect’ as it’s up to USA Basketball. 

“USA Basketball is going to determine who is an elite recruit,” explained the agent. “There is going to be so much underhanded stuff with agents and USA Basketball. An agent is going to ‘ask’ for a kid to be designated elite now and who knows where that will lead.” 

Agents will also be allowed to pay for expenses for recruiting purposes. 

Agents can pay for meals and transportation for players and their families if the expenses are related to the agent selection process. Also, the student cannot miss class, and the money must be spent where the student lives or attends school. Additionally, high school and college student-athletes and their families can have meals, transportation and lodging paid for by an agent if those expenses are associated with meetings with the agent or a pro team.

“In many ways, the old system was good,” stated the agent. “There was always an excuse not to pay a player because no one wanted to get in trouble. That’s all gone now, and it’s going to be way worse. You just won't hear about it now because it’s legal. 

“They made the situation worse and more corrupt, but people won’t hear about it because it’s now allowed.

“We’ve always argued if a kid is going to school for math, he can hire an attorney or someone to help with advancement. The recruiting process will become more expensive for agents because we can pay for meals, lodging and travel.” 

Shoe companies made headlines over the last year and with the rule changes, it could get fascinating behind closed doors. 

“I don’t think it will impact programs other than agents directing kids on where to go to school,” said the agent. “Shoe companies will pay the agents to pay players to go to schools. It’s unbelievable. 

“If Adidas wanted a kid to go to Indiana, they would go to the agent and offer him $500k to get the kid to go to Indiana. Then the kid is going to sign with the agent because he’s going to get paid.”

It wasn’t all bad news for college basketball as the game will have a chance to get better as undrafted prospects that left school early can return to school following the NBA Draft. 

College basketball players who request an Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation, participate in the NBA combine and aren’t drafted can return to school as long as they notify their athletics director of their intent by 5 p.m. the Monday after the draft.

“It’s good for the kids and college basketball," the agent said. They can return to school if they go undrafted and it strengthens the game." 

All in all, college basketball is going to be very interesting with the rule changes, and agents will likely have a more significant impact in a sport that is dealing with corruption. 

“I haven’t had a ton of time to digest it, but this is insane,” said the agent. “It’s like a city having a high crime rate and then legalizing everything, so they don’t have any more crime. The city didn't fix the problem. They just fixed the optics.” 

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