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Can NCAA basketball players hire agents?

The top players in college basketball will be spotlighted over the next month as March Madness begins with the conference tournaments starting this week.

The top players in college basketball will be under the spotlight over the next month as March Madness starts with the conference tournaments.
Darren YamashitaUSA TODAY Sports

Over the next month, the next generation of rising stars will be on display on college basketball’s biggest stage. The top talent in the NCAA will give one last showcase through March Madness with the intent of not only helping their team get to the Final Four, but will also be hoping to raise their stock before this year’s draft.

NIL rules bring agents into college world

Even before the NBA hopefuls set their eyes on the draft, they have a chance to hire an agent while in college. This is a brand new occurrence for college players after the recent change in rules and regulations when it comes to name, image and likeness developments in the NCAA.

In the summer of 2021 the courts sided with the student-athletes, stating that they could collect compensation while in college under this new “NIL” rule. Before this decision, college kids on scholarships were granted free schooling but no amateur student-athlete could be compensated in any other monetary way.

After the ruling, it is now legal for these college kids to cash-in on endorsement deals, monazite their Twitter, Instagram and TicTok profiles and give autographs for money.

The O'Neal's two top earners in NCAA

Data from HypeAuditor tells us the top social media earner among student-athletes coming into this school year was LSU’s Shareef O’Neal, who has nearly three million followers on Instagram. The son of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal could rake in over $10,000 per post he makes.

His brother Shaqir sits fourth on the college rich list with almost a million followers, earning almost $4,000 per post. In between the brothers in the top five are gymnasts Sunisa Lee from Auburn and Olivia Dunne from LSU.

Lee is already an Olympic gold medalist, and could receive at up to $6,403.32 for every post she made since the start of the school year. Olivia Dunne is a gymnast with over 1.3 million Instagram followers and 4.4 million TikTok followers which brings her over five thousand dollars with every post.

Agents don't have detailed NIL rules

While the rules have been laid out for the amateur athletes, the agents who they hire to handle the business side of these transactions don’t regulations that are so clear cut.

According to a publication from the Robinson Bradshaw Law Firm “agents are regulated under the Uniform Athlete Agents Act, a model statute that most states have adopted, as well as the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act, a federal statute. Unlike the NCAA NIL policy and state NIL statutes, the state and federal agent statutes assume that sports agents are not permitted to represent student-athletes without sacrificing the athlete’s eligibility. The conflict in these sources of law leaves sports agents without adequate guidance on how they can lawfully represent student-athletes who hope to profit from their NIL.”

When it comes to the draft process begins players must hire an agent to get them ready for the big day by helping them with all of the off court business matters.

Players can now enter draft and return to school

For a long time, underclassman who had hopes and dreams of making it to the league before their senior year were forced to take a big risk on their basketball futures. If they thought they had what it takes take get drafted into the league, they would hire an agent knowing that if they didn’t get selected by a team they couldn’t go back to school to play.

In 2018, the NCAA lightened that rule, allowing players to hire an agent and take the risk of making the jump to the NBA without the jeopardizing a possible return to their university if they aren’t drafted.

Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren is the favorite to get drafted with the number one pick in the 2022 draft, but he is just 19 years old. Only time we will most likely have to wait to see if he forgoes his final years at Gonzaga to try to make the jump to the league this year.


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