On Thursday, Geo Baker along with Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon and Michigan’s Isaiah Livers met with NCAA President Mark Emmert regarding the student-athletes fight for name, image and likeness rights. The movement gained momentum during the NCAA Tournament as the three players created the #NotNCAAProperty label that generated a lot of media and fan attention. The NCAA has previously delayed a decision on NIL rights and Emmert initially declined to meet with the student-athletes until after the Tournament. However, pressure mounted and Emmert agreed to an earlier meeting.
NCAA president Mark Emmert met with players from the #NotNCAAProperty protest this morning. Players in the meeting say Emmert heard them out, but they aren't expecting much action. They do plan to meet with him again in the future.— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) April 1, 2021
Per an article by Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger, Baker was quoted after the meeting saying “Just a lot of talk. The NCAA doesn’t want to be the first to take action [on NIL]. He kept saying Congress … Congress.”
Baker, Ron Harper Jr. and Myles Johnson all wore #NotNCAAProperty shirts on the court prior to the NCAA Tournament second round game against Houston on March 21.
This past weekend, Baker was interviewed by ESPN’s Rece Davis and he spoke about how Rutgers and Clemson players discussed the possibility of delaying the start of its NCAA Tournament first round game on March 19 as a form of protest. You can view the video of Baker discussing the possibility here.
As for Thursday’s meeting with NCAA President Mark Emmert, the topics brought up by the student-athletes included a blanket request for athletic programs to allow NIL next year, for the NCAA to enforce Title IX and for them to have a voice in NCAA DI Council meetings moving forward. Emmert did not agree to these terms but did agree to meet again with the players in the future.
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D), a former football player at Stanford who was teammates with current Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway, reportedly attended as well. Dellenger quoted Booker on Twitter, stating, “We are in constructive dialogue to once and for all to finally protect the educational, health and economic well being of student athletes. As we heard with the Supreme Court testimony, it is very hard to hide from the American public as well as from the federal judiciary that this system is broken and morally failing us.”
The NCAA v. Alston case that Booker referenced is currently being heard by the United States Supreme Court in regard to the 9th Circuit’s (and the lower court’s) decision which ruled to allow schools to award athletes (1) unlimited educationally related benefits and (2) yearly cash payments as academic awards and incentives.
As for the fight for NIL rights, the three Big Ten players are leading the efforts for all student-athletes are being supported by Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA football player and the executive director of the National College Players Association (NCPA).
Additional controversy arose with the players formally requesting that female college basketball players be allowed to join them for the meeting with Emmert, but they did not believe their request was granted. The NCAA reportedly said they never received that request per a tweet by reporter Chad Leistikow below, but Baker tweeted the formal letter he, Bohannon and Livers sent the NCAA asking for their inclusion last week.
Per Dellenger’s tweet below, Emmert clarified that he was open to the women players joining the meeting. Huma followed with issuing a statement below about including them on the next call.
In maybe the final chapter of this, the #NotNCAAProperty athletes say they misinterpreted Emmert's March 25 letter allowing them to include others in meeting.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) April 1, 2021
"They’re excited & are going to schedule another meeting with Emmert to include women," NCPA's Ramogi Huma tells @SINow.
Last week, the NCAA received criticism for not providing equal rights for women’s players after video leaked of the weight room having significantly less equipment than the men’s setup in the Tournament’s bubble environments. The players made Title IX a priority in Thursday’s meeting, which states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
As for what’s next, Dellenger tweeted, “The #NotNCAAProperty group does not plans any event this weekend at the NCAA Tournament but are trying to recruit more members and get players to speak out more.”
There is no doubt that the NCAA’s clinging to the claim of amateurism is hanging by a thread. Good for Baker, Bohannon and Livers for fighting for increased rights for all student-athletes in every sport.
Baker has not publicly announced whether he will return to Rutgers for next season after receiving an additional year of eligibility due to the NCAA ruling established because of COVID-19.
Stay tuned as the NIL rights fight led by Baker, Bohannon and Livers continues.
Hearing each individual story today in the #NotNCAAProperty meetings only made me want NIL passed for future generations even more. @CaitlinClark22 @nazhillmon @hannahall10 i just wanted to say y’all are POWERFUL. Happy to have met you guys and learn about your stories ❤️— Geo Baker (@Geo_Baker_1) April 1, 2021