NCAA Tourney Players Kick Off #NotNCAAProperty Social Media Campaign

By Ken Reed

Geo Baker, a player on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, which is participating in this year’s NCAA tournament, summarized in a tweet the frustration college basketball and football players have long had as a result of being unable to capitalize on their names, images and likenesses (NILs) while earning millions for their schools and the NCAA.

The NCAA OWNS my name image and likeness,” tweeted Baker. “Someone on music scholarship can profit from an album. Someone on academic scholarship can have a tutor service. For ppl who say “an athletic scholarship is enough.” Anything less than equal rights is never enough. I am #NotNCAAProperty.”

That’s a succinct and powerful synopsis of the civil rights injustice college athletes have dealt with for decades.

Basketball analyst and journalist Gary Parrish agrees with Baker. In a column for CBS Sports, Parrish wrote:

“Twenty-five years ago, I was on a journalism scholarship in college while I also did freelance work for various newspapers. I had a skill and I profited from it. And nobody even blinked. So the idea that student-athletes still don’t have the same rights I had literally a quarter-century ago is absolutely shameful. And the NCAA continuing to do nothing on the name, image and likeness front is unsurprising but disappointing.”

It’s also frustrating and maddening. On the eve of the NCAA’s biggest event, the men’s basketball tournament, known widely as March Madness, players from 15 teams in the tourney took to social media to voice their anger over the restrictions on their ability to earn income from their own NILs, while the schools they play for can profit from those very same NILs.

“It’ll only be addressed when the NCAA is legally forced to address it,” wrote Parrish. “That’s the truth.”

Indeed, that is the truth. And the Supreme Court has a chance to address the issue. The Court will soon hear a case in which college athletes are challenging the NCAA’s limits on their compensation. In a brief filed Wednesday, the Department of Justice urged the Supreme Court to side with the college athletes. The DOJ brief argued that just because the NCAA has an interest in amateurism doesn’t mean its rules can avoid the same antitrust scrutiny that applies to other organizations. This is a bipartisan position. The antitrust division of the Justice Department during the Trump administration had the same concerns with the NCAA’s stance.

In the meantime, Baker, along with basketball colleagues from fourteen other teams, took to social media to once again voice their displeasure with the archaic NCAA system.

“Think you can definitely be grateful to play this game while also understanding there’s more that should be on the table,” tweeted Baker.

“Players ISOLATED entire year to help make this tournament happen. NCAA: rewarded w/$900 million. Players: rewarded w/free deodorant and small boxed meals.”

Thankfully, Baker and the other players in this campaign aren’t just shutting up and dribbling.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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