NBA agents reject NCAA’s certification proposal

On behalf of certified player agents, the National Basketball Players Association is sending a signed letter to the NCAA that refuses to submit to a proposed certification process to work with undergraduate men’s basketball players “testing the waters” for the NBA draft.

The NBPA has been communicating with NCAA officials in recent weeks about a way to work together, league sources tell ESPN. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts declined to comment for this story.

The agents’ letter, obtained by ESPN, charges the NCAA with trying to obtain a mechanism to “garner access to personal and private information of certified agents in what amounts to subpoena power to embark on investigations that are wholly unrelated to protecting the interests of men’s basketball student-athletes in deciding whether to remain in school or to enter the NBA Draft.”

In the wake of college basketball’s FBI scandal, the NCAA agreed to adopt recommendations of the Rice Commission on numerous fronts, including the relationship between certified agents and players. The NCAA allows undergraduate players to examine staying in the NBA draft through attendance at the draft combine, team workouts and advice from agents, with the ability to maintain their eligibility and return to school after a deadline date in May. The NCAA wanted NBA agents — already under the jurisdiction of the NBPA and several state regulatory bodies — to also register and become part of oversight of college basketball’s governing body. The NCAA already changed course on legislation that would require NBA agents to minimally have a bachelor’s degree to discuss representation with players who were testing the waters.

In the letter, the agents write to the NCAA: “While we refuse to subject ourselves to these regulations, our biggest concern is that the process itself undermines the ability of student-athletes to truly receive the most competent representation when they are testing the waters. By continuing to legislate in a manner that ignores the realities of the world that student-athletes with professional prospects live in, the NCAA is only entrenching an ecosystem that cultivates and fosters an atmosphere of distrust among the student-athletes whom the NCAA is supposed to protect, thus pushing these kids out of school far before they are ready.

“Every year, men’s basketball student-athletes continue to make poor decisions on whether to remain in the NBA Draft or return to school. We share in the NCAA’s goal of wanting to correct this problem, yet NCAA legislation continues to demonize and marginalize agents and furthers a negative stigma instead of making strides toward working cooperatively to ensure that student-athletes get the most accurate and competent counsel to make great career and life decisions.

“Competent, established, and experienced agents have no incentive to subject themselves to this legislation, and its overly burdensome procedures and oversight. As such, men’s basketball student-athletes who are testing the NBA Draft waters will be forced to listen to people who do not have the experience, knowledge, and network to truly help them make the best decisions. While we do not want to see this happen, it is inevitable under the proposed process.”

The NBA agents did agree to participate in a biannual online seminar that centered on preserving the amateur eligibility rights of college basketball players. Players and families regularly interact with professional basketball agents, relationships that often begin before the players step foot on a college campus.

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