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"Not NCAA property": College basketball players push for compensation as tournament starts

Time to dance: March Madness arrives
Time to dance: March Madness arrives 04:06

College players from more than 15 teams playing in this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament are taking aim at the NCAA, demanding a reform to rules that will allow for collegiate student athletes to be compensated.

While the NCAA is expected to make nearly $900 million during March Madness and split it amongst its member schools, players won't see a dime. Among the athletes leading the charge to change that include Michigan's Isaiah Livers, Iowa's Jordan Bohannon and Rutgers' Geo Baker, who all tweeted out "#NotNCAAProperty" as part of a protest organized by the National College Players Association (NCPA).

"We deserve an opportunity to create money from our name, image, and likeness," Baker tweeted on Thursday.  "If you don't agree with that statement, then you are saying that you believe that I, a human being, should be owned by something else." 

In a statement, the group said it wants the NCAA to allow athletes to secure representation and receive pay for use of their names, image and likeness by July 1. They're also seeking meetings with NCAA president Mark Emmert, lawmakers and Biden administration officials to pass laws that would give college athletes physical, academic and financial protections. The players also want the Supreme Court to rule in favor of plaintiffs and college athletes in the pending Alston v. NCAA case, which is examining whether players should be compensated. 

"These players are taking a historic stand to protect the rights and freedoms of generations of players to come.  They are people #NotNCAAProperty," NCPA executive director Ramogi Huma said in a statement. 

Baker, Livers and Bohannon met with Huma and other players in the Big Ten Conference to discuss their rights and challenges during the pandemic over Zoom during the summer. The NCPA said they held a meeting along with players from a dozen other tournament teams to launch the protest. 

While critics pointed out that mostly top players would see benefit of compensating collegiate athletes, the players' protest has been mostly well-received on social media. Ex-Duke star and ESPN analyst Jay Williams suggested players should "delay" their participation in the tournament until their demands are met. 

Earlier this year, the NCAA decided to postpone a vote on allowing athletes to profit off their names, images and likenesses. Multiple states, including California, Colorado and Florida, have passed laws that would make current NCAA rules illegal in the future. Florida's law goes into effect July 1, putting pressure on the NCAA. 

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