“You just don’t think of this being separated between Is, IIs and IIIs, and if so, why? What’s the purpose of not allowing a Division II kid to have the same opportunity a Division I kid has?” Bill Lilly, Glenville State Compliance Coordinator
The new NCAA rule designed to help players explore their NBA draft potential by allowing them to sign with an agent and still return to school doesn’t apply to all college players. That’s coming as a surprise to some compliance officers.
The rule was implemented last August after reforms proposed by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s Commission on College Basketball. It permits agents to cover minimal travel expenses for team meetings and workouts, though those contracts must end if the player withdraws from the draft and returns to school.
The NCAA launched the “Committed to Change” webpage to explain the reforms, and broad terms such as “basketball student-athletes” and “college basketball players” are used when referencing the new agent rule without definitively saying it does not apply to Division II or Division III players.
Compliance officers play a pivotal role in the deciphering the rules. The NCAA allows schools to communicate directly with the NBA when notifying the league of a player’s intent to enter, then withdraw, from the draft. Some were puzzled as to why only Division I players are entitled to this new rule.
“I could’ve avoided it,” explains Lilly after he had to withdraw his Division II player from the NBA draft. “But we could’ve had help in avoiding this thing, too, because we weren’t trying to sneak anything by anyone. We were just trying to give the kid the option we thought he had, and now he doesn’t have it.”
All three divisions have a starting point of General Rule 12.3.1, which prohibits athletes from agreeing to be represented by an agent either verbally or in writing. But there’s an exception outlined in Division I rules permitting players to sign with an NCAA-certified agent (Section 18.104.22.168), yet that exception doesn’t appear in the Division II and Division III rulebooks and was never adopted at those levels.
Maryland-based agent Jerry Dianis says he’s helped Division I players declare for the NBA draft with the intent of maintaining college eligibility. He hasn’t had any issues, however, Dianis doesn’t believe this is what Rice and the commission had in mind.
“How hard is it to add a sentence or to add ‘Division I’ just to include that in the information that was sent out?” he said.
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