WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Michigan standout Isaiah Livers wore a shirt with #NotNCAAProperty written on it at the top-seeded Wolverines’ NCAA Tournament opener against Texas Southern on Saturday.
The hashtag is part of a social media effort to raise awareness about inequities in college sports.
Livers, who is out with a foot injury, is one of a few prominent Big Ten players leading the movement. Players have pushed for the NCAA to change rules preventing college athletes from earning money for things like endorsements, sponsorship deals and personal appearances.
“Isaiah, he’s going to speak his mind,” said Mike Smith, Livers’ teammate at Michigan. “Everybody has their own opinion, and he speaks his mind all the time.”
Michigan coach Juwan Howard, himself a prominent former college player, did not seem to have noticed the shirt when he spoke to reporters after the Wolverines’ 82-66 win.
“Honestly, I did not pay attention to his shirt,” Howard said. “I was so locked in to the game prep, Texas Southern, I didn’t pay attention to his T-shirt.”
The National College Players Association, an athlete advocacy group, released a statement Wednesday detailing the players’ goals, which include getting the NCAA to change rules to allow athletes to receive pay for use of name, image and likeness. The players also are seeking meetings with NCAA President Mark Emmert and state and federal lawmakers.
The NCAA has been working toward changing its rules governing NIL compensation, although the NCAA in January delayed a vote on NIL legislation after receiving a letter from the Department of Justice that warned the proposed rule changes might violate antitrust law.
Emmert said recently he still hopes the NCAA will have uniform national NIL rules in place before the start of football season.
The National College Players Association also took aim Saturday at the inequities of the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The group called on the NCAA to abide by and enforce Title IX. NCAA member schools are obligated to follow the federal law, but not the association itself.
“There is no reason that a portion of the money from this $1 billion tournament wasn’t used to provide equal equipment, food and COVID testing,” said NCPA executive director Ramogi Huma. “To add insult to injury, NCAA rules prohibiting athletes from receiving benefits due to their name, image, likeness and athletics reputation prevent the female basketball players in the tournament from receiving help from Vanessa Bryant, Planet Fitness and others who are offering to help these women.”