NCAA president Mark Emmert said he will meet with the college basketball players behind the hashtag #NotNCAAProperty but not until after the end of the men’s tournament.
The athletes responsible for first posting and sharing the hashtag on social media requested a meeting with Emmert this week to discuss issues related to the online protest, including the inequitable facilities for use at the men’s and women’s tournaments and the NCAA’s stance on name, image and likeness.
The request for a Zoom meeting Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET came in a letter sent to Emmert by the National College Players Association, an independent organization, which was shared with USA TODAY Sports.
“They want to discuss the NCAA’s prohibition on college athlete compensation for use of their name, image, and likeness as well as the unacceptable discriminatory treatment of female athletes in the NCAA March Madness Tournament and throughout NCAA member institutions,” wrote Ramogi Huma, the executive director of the NCPA.
On Tuesday, Huma released a letter saying the NCPA was “disappointed” in Emmert’s decision to table any meetings until after the men’s and women’s tournaments.
“From our perspective, it is difficult to imagine any higher priority you may have at this time than addressing concerns that are at the core of state and federal college athletes’ rights legislation,” Huma wrote. “Can you please explain what you will be doing over the next two weeks that is more important than addressing these matters?”
The hashtag exploded on Twitter and other social-media platforms last week, with student-athletes across several men’s and women’s sports pushing for alterations to the current NCAA rules prohibiting athletes from earning endorsement money in exchange for the use of their name, image or likeness.
Initial tweets from several Big Ten standouts, including Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon and Michigan’s Isaiah Livers, were soon echoed by players representing more than a dozen teams in the tournament field.
The use of the hashtag expanded to encompass the clear disparity between the training facilities, food quality and even the welcoming gifts provided to athletes at the men’s and women’s tournaments.
Most notably, players at the women’s tournament posted pictures and videos comparing the bare-bones weight room provided for each team for the early rounds to the expansive area provided for the men’s teams.
Amid the hashtag-driven outcry and resulting media coverage, a new weight room and training area was provided for women’s teams in the first and second rounds of the tournament.
“I’m really supportive of what they’re asking for and what makes sense. I get it,” Emmert said during a meeting last week with reporters from USA TODAY Sports, The Athletic and The New York Times. “I’m certainly not unhappy students are using their voice to describe what they think are issues of importance to them. That’s a good thing. They’re students. They’re supposed to do that.”
Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg