INDIANAPOLIS – In a meeting Thursday with NCAA President Mark Emmert, a group of collegiate athletes called #NotNCAAProperty asked the organization to adopt a temporary blanket waiver to give players the right to get compensation by name image and likeness, as permitted by state law.
Emmert did not immediately agree to the request, with group leaders describing the 45-minute meeting with Emmert as mostly unproductive, even saying that the NCAA leader denied the player group’s request to involve more participating athletes in the call, including women. All three leaders of the #NotNCAAProperty movement – Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon, Rutgers guard Geo Baker and Michigan forward Isaiah Livers – are men.
In an hour-long call with reporters, the group’s leaders expressed frustration that Emmert did not agree to grant them the right to involve female athletes in the meeting.
“We wanted more than just the three of us,” says Bohannon. We made it very clear. “
In a statement to Illustrated Sports, The NCAA says it did not receive a request to meet with female basketball players as part of the #NotNCAAProperty discussions and that it would be open to such a meeting.
Either way, it’s another public blow to the organization’s leader during a time when he faced intense scrutiny over the inequality between the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. A discrepancy between weight rooms at tournaments made national news, prompting the governing body to quickly upgrade the women’s weight room, initially nothing more than a single rack of dumbbells – a striking disparity with the sprawling, luxurious men’s facility.
The three leaders of the player group, as well as several athletes including Caitlin Clark of Iowa and Naz Hillmon of Michigan, and two Democratic senators, met with reporters during an hour-long virtual press conference on Thursday, just minutes after the meeting with Emmert. They expressed disappointment and frustration at the governing body’s approach to Name, Image and Likeness (NIL).
The NCAA was expected to pass the NIL legislation in January before delaying the measure, in part due to antitrust concerns voiced by the Justice Department and the ongoing legal battle over athletes’ compensation that was heard before the Supreme Court of United States on Wednesday.
All of this takes place in the context of a widespread nationwide trend of states hastily passing their own different NIL laws. Since then, three more states – Mississippi, Arizona and Georgia – passed NIL laws this spring, joining six others that previously passed bills. The governors of Mississippi and Georgia must sign the bill for it to become law. Arizona state law would only go into effect if the NCAA grants athletes the right to benefit from NIL. The NIL laws of Mississippi and Florida would go into effect on July 1.
“There’s just been a lot of talk,” says Baker, describing the conversation with Emmert. “The NCAA does not want to be the first to act [on NIL]. He kept saying Congress … Congress. “
The NCAA has spent the past 16 months petitioning Congress to create a unifying federal NIL bill to get ahead of various state laws. There is renewed optimism on Capitol Hill. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) And Cory Booker (DN.J.), who were at the Thursday Zoom press conference, are in compromise talks with two Republican senators, Roger Wicker and Jerry Moran, at a attempt to reach an agreement on a federal bill, as SI reported Tuesday.
Booker described the conversations as “constructive dialogue.” Blumenthal says he and Booker plan to resubmit their congressional bill from last year, the College Athletes Bill of Rights, a broad proposal that goes well beyond NIL.
During Zoom’s call with reporters, Blumenthal gutted Emmert, at one point saying “the emperor has no clothes.”
“What I have heard about the conversation with Mark Emmert is a clear sign of a lack of leadership,” the senator said. “He says he wants Congress to help him, well, we’re going to give him hell.”
Blumenthal described the NCAA’s appearance before the Supreme Court on Wednesday as an “absolute disaster” and suggested that the organization will lose the case.
“They are on the wrong side of history and if they needed any indication of it, they got it loud and clear (on Wednesday),” he said.
Along with a blanket NIL waiver, #NotNCAAProperty leaders requested two more articles from Emmert. They want the NCAA to enforce Title IX, which is currently enforced by government entities, and they want a voice in the NCAA’s main legislative body, the NCAA Division I Council.
Emmert immediately agreed to at least study a deeper application of Title IX, says Baker. Emmert also agreed to have more meetings with the group, although none are scheduled.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.