Rutgers guard Geo Baker said the Scarlet Knights discussed postponing their NCAA Tournament game against Clemson last week as part of the players’ protest against inequities in college sports.
Baker, Isaiah Livers of Michigan and Jordan Bohannon of Iowa are leading a #NotNCAAProperty movement calling on the NCAA to change the rules that prevent athletes from making money from personal sponsorships, online sponsorships and online appearances.
Baker and Leavers wore #NotNCAAProperty jerseys during warmups last week, and Baker told Rece Davis of ESPN that the three players and their teammates have considered various other forms of protest, including delaying the start of March Madness games.
We’ve definitely talked about moving games, Baker Davis said in an interview that will air Saturday on College GameDay. Clemson and I talked about moving the match, but in the end we all thought that if we tried anything, the channel would change. So, in the end, it didn’t come through.
Baker and the Scarlet Knights, ranked 10th, defeated Clemson 60-56 on Friday for their first win in the NCAA Tournament in 38 years. The senior guard told Davis that Clemson’s players are interested in moving the game along, but are concerned about the reaction of the Tigers’ coaching staff.
Baker also said he didn’t want the protest for the game to overshadow Rutgers’ rare performance in March Madness. Rutgers is playing its first NCAA Tournament game since 1991.
It was a unique situation because we hadn’t been to a tournament in 30 years, so I wasn’t going to ask the guys to delay or protest anything that Rutgers fans hadn’t seen in 30 years, Baker told Davis in an interview that also featured Leavers and Bohannon. It’s very long… [but] we definitely talked about it.
Geo Baker, one of the leaders of the #NotNCAAProperty movement, says the increase in player protests during the NCAA tournament is something that could really make a difference. Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Baker, Livers and Bohannon will meet with NCAA President Mark Emmert after the tournament to discuss the protest. On Tuesday, the National College Players Association sent a letter to Emmert on behalf of three players, expressing their disappointment that he waited until after the tournament and could only get Baker, Leavers and Bohannon to play.
We are disappointed that you plan to postpone this important conversation for at least two weeks, the players wrote in a letter NCPA executive director Ramogi Huma sent to Emmert. From our point of view, it is difficult to imagine a higher priority than you could have at this stage. Can you explain what you are going to do in the next two weeks that is more important than addressing these issues?
NCAA spokeswoman Stacy Osburn said Tuesday that the organization had no comment.
Baker told Davis that many people have told them to focus on their games, but he, Livers and Bohannon have stressed to their teammates and other players that protesting during the NCAA Tournament means more than winning a few basketball games.
It’s a real change, Baker said. This is something that can really make a difference.
The NCAA has pledged to change its rules regarding name, trademark and likeness rights, but the process has stalled due to warnings from the U.S. Department of Justice about possible antitrust violations in the league’s proposal.
The NCAA’s case on the antitrust ruling is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court next week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.