- SXSW 2014
Texas sophomore guard Myck Kabongo is currently under the NCAA microscope for possibly receiving improper benefits from Rich Paul, who represents Miami Heat superstar LeBron James.
The situation in question involves a trip Cleveland where Kabongo participated in a workout with a New York-based professional trainer and how those events were funded.
Under NCAA Bylaw 12.3, no student-athlete may “agree verbally or in writing to be represented by an athlete agent in the present or in the future for the purpose of marketing the student-athlete’s ability or reputation.” Entering into such an agreement would rule the student-athlete ineligible for intercollegiate competition.
Additionally, “a student-athlete may not accept transportation or other benefits from an athlete agent. This prohibition applies to the student-athlete and his or her relatives or friends."
According to a Yahoo! Sports report, the investigation centers Paul’s alleged involvement in Kabongo’s trip to Cleveland where he received at least one workout with Jerry Powell. If Paul financed the visit, it jeopardizes Kabongo’s eligibility, an impact that could have large implications for the Texas basketball program in a critical season.
The bylaw also declares that, “at a minimum, the student-athlete will be required to repay the value of the impermissible benefits and will be withheld from a certain number of contests, based on case precedent."
In a CBSSports.com report, Texas media relations official Scott McConnell said, “We’re aware of the situation, but no judgment has been rendered by the NCAA.”
Kabongo, who recently was named to the coaches’ preseason All-Big 12 first team, served as the starting point guard for the Longhorns during his freshman season. He recorded 9.6 points and 5.2 assists per game on a young team that was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Second Round.
In addition to representing James, Paul also works with former Longhorns Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph.
The Grand Scheme
It is unfortunate that Texas is even involved in a situation like this, and as a university that seemingly runs a clean ship, the Longhorns will want this to get resolved as quickly as possible and move forward with whatever players they have eligible.
Obviously, Rick Barnes will want his full complement of players, including his standout sophomore Kabongo. The Toronto, Ontario native made strides in his first season, but the expectations have amounted to something special for the point guard.
The potential loss of Kabongo for some amount of games is a distraction waiting to implode on the team.
A lack of continuity is the last thing that this Texas team needs. With a squad that features two senior walk-ons, no juniors and a remaining mixture of 11 scholarship sophomores and freshmen, every bit of experience is invaluable.
In the grand scheme of things, it presents a wrist-slap type of punishment when lined up next to the sanctions delivered to the Central Florida and Connecticut basketball programs. It hurts, but nothing that should cause long-term anxiety.