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The NCAA gets into the Agent Certification Business

The NCAA has decided to regulate men’s basketball agents to the chagrin of agents and many pundits and athletes including King James. The NCAA decided to regulate agents based on an April 2018 report issued by the Commissions on College Basketball chaired by Condoleezza Rice. As a result, NCAA legislation will permit a few student-athletes to meet with and be represented by an NCAA-certified agent without jeopardizing or losing his eligibility. The NCAA’s process is described as follows:


To become an NCAA-certified agent one must:

  1. Have a bachelor's degree;

  2. Have been NBPA certified for at least three consecutive years and be in good-standing;

  3. Maintain professional liability insurance.

  4. Submit application by appropriate deadline.

Application Process

Register Online in the NCAA Agent Certification System (ACS).

  1. Submit Application to NCAA.

  2. Includes disclosing conflicts of interest;

  3. Successful completion of background check;

  4. Payment of nonrefundable application fee.

  5. NCAA Review of Application.

  6. Notification of Eligibility to Take the In-Person Exam.

  7. In-Person Exam.

  8. Pay Certification Fee (annually).

  9. Reapply the following year using the same ACS user account.


NBPA-certified agents may apply online to become NCAA-certified agents beginning Monday Aug. 5, 2019. The application is only available between midnight August 1 and 11:59 pm September 30 (Eastern time). Late submissions are not accepted. Failure to apply while the application is available online will require the agent to wait until the application is available the following year.

Background Check

During the NCAA application process, the agent will be redirected to the Sterling Volunteers website to provide additional information in order to complete the background check portion of the application. The agent will need to provide his/her driver's license information, address history for seven years, and information about his/her bachelor’s degree (start and end dates, major, college/university name and location) for the background check to be completed.


The application fee is $250 which includes a full background check and is paid directly to Sterling Volunteers at the conclusion of the application. The application fee is non-refundable and is required annually. The certification fee is $1250 and will be paid in the NCAA Agent Certification System.

In-Person Exam

Agents who successfully complete the application and background check requirement will be required to take the in-person exam currently scheduled for Wednesday, November 6 at the NCAA National Office in Indianapolis, Indiana.

In only a few days, this process has been heavily chastised by pundits and athletes alike. One of the more common arguments is the requirement that an agent must have a bachelor’s degree while the NBPA permits exceptions to its rule on the same. This has been dubbed the #RichPaulRule. In response, the NCAA released a statement saying:

Although some can and have been successful without a college degree, as a higher education organization the NCAA values a college education and continues to emphasize the importance of earning a degree. We are guided by recommendations from the Commission on College Basketball – which spoke with the agent and advisor community – that the NCAA certification process should be more stringent than current processes. With this in mind, we benchmarked our new rules against requirements for other organizations that certify agents, like the NBPA which also requires agents to have a bachelor’s degree. We recognize they and others provide discretionary waivers to the degree requirement. While different and distinct, our rules taken together, which is the manner they were meant to be examined provide a clear opportunity for our student athletes to receive excellent advice from knowledgeable professionals on either the college or professional path they choose.

I anticipate, like others, that this certification process will be legally challenged and, thus, there will be lawyers involved.

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