Rich Paul Trends on Twitter As Reports Suggest New NCAA Rule Intentionally Excludes The NBA Super Agent

As news about a new NCAA regulation broke on Tuesday, the name of an NBA super agent trended on Twitter, along with speculation that the new rule intentionally excluded him.

The agent is Rich Paul, president and founder of Klutch Sports, who is, according to Forbes, best known for managing the contracts of LeBron James and Tristan Thompson.

The NCAA has reportedly set new criteria for agents who wish to consult student athletes attempting to turn pro. The organization now requires such agents to have a bachelor's degree—something Paul apparently doesn't possess.

Sources: The NCAA has officially added criteria for agents who wish to represent student athletes testing the waters for the NBA Draft.

Criteria:
- Bachelor's Degree
- Certified with NBPA for a minimum of three years
- Take an in-person exam at the NCAA Office in Indianapolis

— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) August 6, 2019

On Tuesday, CBS Sports reporter Jon Rothstein tweeted that the NCAA will be imposing new eligibility restrictions on who qualifies to represent those prospective NBA players. The criteria will include a Bachelor's degree, certification with NBPA for a minimum of three years and passing an in-person exam at the NCAA Office in Indianapolis.

If student athletes were to sign with an uncertified agent like Paul, they would no longer be eligible for college, experts confirmed on Tuesday.

The Athletic's Sam Vecenie later tweeted a copy of the NCAA memo detailing the new requirements, confirming Rothstein's original report.

Here is the memo that was sent to agents yesterday regarding the new rules for representing clients that are “testing the waters for the NBA Draft.”

The NCAA refers to it as “protecting the eligibility of their client athletes.”

Yeah, this is a bad look for the NCAA. pic.twitter.com/JhzN1c6NyJ

— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) August 6, 2019

But it was Yahoo Sports reporter Jason Owens who suggested the NCAA may have targeted Paul, though Owens didn't provide evidence for his claim.

"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," Owens wrote in an article on Tuesday.

"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," he added.

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop! They BIG MAD 😡 and Scared 😱. Nothing will stop this movement and culture over here. Sorry! Not sorry. 😁✌🏾

— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 6, 2019

LeBron James, who is Paul's star client and friend, tweeted support for Paul on Tuesday afternoon. He wrote: "Can't Stop, Won't Stop! They BIG MAD and Scared. Nothing will stop this movement and culture over here. Sorry! Not sorry."

In a separate tweet, the NBA player also wrote "#TheRichPaulRule," to ostensibly communicate suspicion that the NCAA did, in fact, single out Paul with the regulation.

"The world is so afraid of ground breakers....This is beyond sad & major B.S.....Keep shining@RichPaul4 ....This only makes you stronger....what you have built is unbelievable champ.... #TheRichPaulRule ....Shame on you NCAA," comedian Kevin Hart tweeted.

i don't see this as being focused on rich paul. this is about the *next* rich paul. https://t.co/mGeMLseQiQ

— bomani (@bomani_jones) August 6, 2019

ESPN's Bomani Jones took to Twitter to dismiss suspicions that the new regulation targeted Paul and suggest that the organization had another target entirely.

"i don't see this as being focused on rich paul," wrote Jones. "this is about the *next* rich paul."

LeBron James talks to his agent Rich Paul during halftime of a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center on January 13, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
LeBron James talks to his agent Rich Paul during halftime of a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center on January 13, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images