INDIANAPOLIS — NCAA president Mark Emmert said Friday he’s supportive of athletes waging the “NotNCAAProperty” campaign on social media, and indicated they wouldn’t be disciplined for subtle displays of the slogan during the men’s basketball tournament.
Rutgers guard Geo Baker, Michigan’s Isaiah Livers and Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon have led a coalition of players from more than a dozen teams who are lobbying for the right to profit off their name, image and likeness. Six states have passed laws that will allow athletes to do that, but the NCAA has not agreed on the framework to make it possible under the association's rules.
“I’m really supportive of what they’re asking for and what makes sense. I get it,” Emmert said during a meeting with reporters from USA TODAY Sports, The Athletic and the New York Times. “I’m certainly not unhappy students are using their voice to describe what they think are issues of importance to them. That’s a good thing. They’re students. They’re supposed to do that.”
While Emmert might be supportive, the NCAA has pushed back — hard — on any efforts to further compensate players for the billions they generate for the NCAA, conferences and schools. The U.S. Supreme Court, in fact, will hear the NCAA’s appeal later this month in a case that said the organization could not cap education-related compensation and benefits for Bowl Subdivisionfootball and Division I men's and women'sbasketball players. Several high-profile figures in college athletics, including Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney, have been vocal opponents of athletes getting anything beyond their scholarships.
A view of the March Madness logo on the court in Indianapolis (Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports)
But Emmert said the debate regarding name, image and likenesshas been settled.
“The majority of schools very, very much want this to happen,” Emmert said. “I think — I don’t think, I know — it’s right place for us to be. We need to be able to allow student-athletes to monetize their name, image and likeness like other students can, except in those places where it can have negative impact on conducting sports.”
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Asked if the NCAA would punish players who might write the “NotNCAAProperty” on their shoes or wear headbands with the slogan, Emmert indicated he had little interest in doing that. Short of something that actually disrupts a game, Emmert appears willing to let the athletes express themselves.
“As long as it doesn’t interfere with the conduct of game, as long as it doesn’t create any risks in any fashion, I’m going to be pretty flexible,” he said. “But we can’t have it be something that interferes with the game.”
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