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National Basketball Players Association Opposes NCAA’s Amended Agent Certification Requirements

In a recently published letter, the agents of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) wrote, “[T]he NCAA Agent Certification process and the rules, regulations, and guidelines surrounding it are needlessly invasive and onerous and are completely counterproductive to meeting the NCAA’s stated purpose in attempting to certify and regulate NBA agents: to protect men’s basketball student-athletes by ensuring that they receive the best possible advice, guidance, and feedback from the most experienced and competent agents in the NBA Pre-Draft process.” The letter continued,

[T]he process itself undermines the ability of student-athletes to truly receive the most competent representation when they are ‘testing the waters.

For years, men’s basketball student-athletes must decide whether to remain in school and continue their education or enter the NBA Draft. Such student-athletes have vastly different agendas and needs from their agents, the NCAA, the NBPA, and the NBA.

The amended agent certification process creates an unnecessary hurdle in a student’s decision-making process and potentially violates agents’ rights.

The new process unreasonably allows the NCAA to obtain the “personal and private information of certified agents.”

For example, during the application process, an agent is required to complete a background check. This, agents contend, “amounts to subpoena power to embark upon investigations that are wholly unrelated to protecting the interests of men’s basketball student-athletes,” dismissing “basic due process rights” and “singl[ing] NBA agents out in a manner that lacks rational justification.”

Such requirements, agents contend, reach beyond protecting “the interests of men’s basketball student-athletes in deciding whether to remain in school or to enter the NBA draft.” Rather, these measures “ignore the realities of the world that student-athletes with professional prospects live in[,] … entrenching an ecosystem that cultivates and fosters an atmosphere of distrust among the student-athletes whom the NCAA is supposed to protect.” Further, many argue, the NCAA does not have the right to make such requirements in the first instance. As Alabama-based attorney Don Jackson stated, “[T]he entity that actually has the responsibility of certifying contract advisers in basketball would be the National Basketball Players Association, not the NCAA.”

The agents end the letter with the following:

  1. NBA agents are not required to adhere to additional certification requirements beyond those imposed by the NBPA.
  2. NBA agents will participate in biannual online seminars centered on preserving the amateur eligibility rights of men’s basketball student-athletes.
  3. NBPA will not agree to the stipulation that an agent can only pay for transportation and lodging when meeting with a student-athlete after that athlete has signed with them, as this requirement harms the ability of men’s basketball student-athletes to thoroughly weigh potential options in making their decision.

Finally, the agents wrote, “the NCAA does not regulate, and has not attempted to regulate, agents in any other sport in this manner.”

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020


About this Author

Eve Tilley-Coulson Employment Attorney Jackson Lewis

Eve Tilley-Coulson is an Associate in the Los Angeles, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counseling.

Ms. Tilley-Coulson has experience with Title IX compliance alongside sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

While attending law school, Ms. Tilley-Coulson was a Moot Court Board Member and the Notes Editor for the National Security Law Journal. Additionally, she was the President of both the Pro Bono Society and Mason...

Gregg E. Clifton, Collegiate Sports Attorney, Jackson Lewis, disciplinary hearings Lawyer
Office Managing Principal

Gregg E. Clifton is Office Managing Principal of the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as one of the editors of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major League Baseball teams in their salary arbitration matters and has represented NCAA and NAIA collegiate clients regarding rules compliance, investigatory matters and in disciplinary hearings. In addition, he has handled Title IX investigations and compliance issues for NCAA and NAIA member institutions. 

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