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Flexibility for going pro and getting a degree

Updated Sep. 20, 2018

Basketball student-athletes have more freedom and flexibility to decide about going pro or getting a college education, and they can receive financial assistance if they leave school early and wish to return later to finish their degree. Changes include:

More chances to visit colleges during and after high school

Basketball student-athletes can make more frequent campus visits paid for by colleges (referred to as official visits), which can begin as soon as Aug. 1 the summer before their junior year in high school. They can take:

  • Five visits between Aug. 1 and the end of their junior year of high school.
  • Five visits between the end of their junior year and Oct. 15 after high school graduation.
  • Five visits between Oct. 15 after high school graduation and the remainder of their college eligibility.

A student-athlete can visit a school only once per year. Unofficial visits — those made at his or her own expense — cannot begin before Aug. 1 of the student’s sophomore year of high school.

Schools now can pay for 28 official visits for recruits (34 for national service academies) over a rolling, two-year period.

These rules are effective Aug. 15, 2018.

Agent representation for high school students

Depending upon future action by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association to permit high school students to enter the draft, high school basketball players can be represented by an agent beginning July 1 before their senior year in high school, provided they have been identified as an elite senior prospect.

The effective date will be decided if/when the NBA and the NBPA permit high school students to enter the draft.

Agent representation for college students

College basketball players can be represented by an agent beginning after any basketball season if they request an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee.

This rule change is effective immediately.

Agents can pay for expenses

Agents can pay for meals and transportation for players and their families if the expenses are related to the agent selection process. Also, the student cannot miss class, and the money must be spent where the student lives or attends school. Additionally, once an agreement is signed with an agent, high school and college student-athletes and their families can have meals, transportation and lodging paid for by the agent if those expenses are associated with meetings with the agent or a pro team.

Because the Uniform Athlete Agents Act, Revised Uniform Agents Act and relevant state laws regulate expenses provided by agents before a contract is signed, those rule changes are effective immediately after those laws are changed. The changes allowing agents to provide expenses to student-athletes and prospects after a contract is signed are effective immediately.

Agent agreements

All agreements between agents and high school or college student-athletes must be:

  • In writing.
  • Terminated when the student enrolls in or returns to college.
  • Disclosed to the NCAA (for high school students) or the school (for students already in college).

This change is effective immediately.

Agent certification

To work with a high school or college athlete, agents must be certified by an NCAA program with standards for behavior and consequences for violations. Family members of the high school recruit or college athlete or those who act solely on behalf of a professional sports team aren’t required to be certified.

The deadline for agents to become certified is undetermined but will not be later than Aug. 1, 2020. Until then, NBPA-certified agents will be considered NCAA certified.

Making informed decisions

Since 2016, college athletes who are interested in going pro have been able to declare for the draft and attend the NBA combine but have been required to withdraw no more than 10 days after the combine to stay eligible. Now, students who wish to enter the draft also must request an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, which will provide valuable information to assist student-athletes in making the decision to turn pro or stay in school.

This rule change is effective immediately.

NBA draft flexibility

College basketball players who request an Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation, participate in the NBA combine and aren’t drafted can return to school as long as they notify their athletics director of their intent by 5 p.m. the Monday after the draft.

This change is effective if/when the NBA and NBPA make an expected rule change, which would make undrafted student-athletes who return to college after the draft ineligible for the NBA until the end of the next college basketball season.

Degree completion assistance

Division I schools will be required to pay for tuition, fees and books for basketball players who leave school and return later to the same school to earn their degree. Former student-athletes will be eligible for financial assistance to complete their first degree if they were on scholarship and fewer than 10 years have passed since they left school. Additionally, students must have been in school for two years before leaving. Former student-athletes also must meet all the school’s admissions and financial aid requirements and must have exhausted all other funding options to be eligible, as well as meet all NCAA academic requirements.

This rule change is effective Aug. 1, 2019.

NCAA fund for degree completion

The NCAA is establishing a fund for schools that are otherwise unable to provide financial aid for basketball players to return to school. The fund will be available to schools defined as limited-resource by the NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program.