The Men's and Women's Division I Basketball Tournaments are off to a fast start. Schools like Oral Roberts, Abilene Christian and Loyola Chicago have already made things interesting on the men's side with major upsets of Ohio State, Texas and Illinois. Meanwhile, BYU has made things interesting on the women's side by knocking future WNBA star Arella Guirantes and Rutgers University out of the tournament.
While things have been exciting on the court, things have quite interesting off of the court. Coaches and players called out the NCAA's lack of accommodations made for the participants in the women's tournament. Now, things have shifted toward a conversation about the rights of college athletes.
During the opening days of the tournament, Michigan Wolverines Forward Isaiah Livers and Iowa Hawkeyes Jordan Bohannon launched the #NotNCAAProperty campaign. The campaign was designed to bring awareness to the lack of rights offered to college athletes. As the campaign gained steam, several college stars joined in and tweeted out the hashtag. Livers even wore a shirt with the hashtag during warmups before their first-round game against Texas Southern.
Under current NCAA regulations, revenue-generating athletes cannot use their likeness or skill to create income for anyone other than their school. These regulations often disproportionately impact Black athletes that often dominate top revenue-generating sports like football and basketball. A report from ESPN estimates that lower-end players could make upwards of $1,000 per year from their likeness if allowed and top-end players could make nearly $1 million per year if allowed the opportunity to do so.
“If you’re a student actor or a student musician, you don’t have those kinds of parameters set up. They’re only in place for the athletes,” UC Riverside assistant professor Eddie Comeaux said.
“So when the NCAA sets up those financial parameters, earning money [based on your name or image] becomes a privilege. And it’s thought of and framed as a privilege — not as a right for these students.”
As the movement continues to gain stream, Livers and Bohannon are looking for a virtual meeting with NCAA President Mark Emmert. The duo sent a letter to the NCAA headquarters and is awaiting a response.
"They want to discuss the NCAA’s prohibition on college athlete compensation for use of their name, image, and likeness as well as the unacceptable discriminatory treatment of female athletes in the NCAA March Madness Tournament and throughout NCAA member institutions," NCPA Executive Director Ramogi Huma said.
Bohannon and Livers will continue to steer this effort as the tournament unfolds. Bohannon and the Hawkeyes ended their season on March 22 with a blowout loss to the Oregon Ducks. Livers and the Wolverines will take on the LSU Tigers in the Second Round of the Division I Men's Tournament in Indianapolis.
Photo Credit: Getty Images