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Geo Baker, Rutgers almost delayed NCAA tournament game for #NotNCAAProperty movement

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3-min read

Several teams considered sitting out and delaying the start of games at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in an effort to get the point of the #NotNCAAProperty movement across, Rutgers star Geo Baker told ESPN.

Baker, along with Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon and Michigan’s Isaiah Livers, organized and pushed the movement ahead of and during the tournament in Indianapolis last week. Their push is to get the NCAA to reform its policies on student athletes profiting from their name and likeness.

Though Baker said the idea of delaying games was discussed, ultimately they determined that doing so wouldn’t have had the impact they desired.

"We definitely talked about delaying games," Baker said, via ESPN. "Us and Clemson actually were talking about delaying the game, but basically what ended up happening was we all believed that the television channel was going to get changed as soon as we tried something. So it ended up not going through."

NCAA to meet with players after tournament

Livers, Bohannon and Baker sent a letter to the NCAA and president Mark Emmert demanding a meeting with him to talk about changing the name, image and likeness policy, among other things.

Emmert, however, responded saying that he would meet with them after the tournament — something they didn’t appreciate.

"We are disappointed that you intend to delay this important conversation for at least two weeks," the players wrote in the letter back to Emmert, via ESPN. "From our perspective, it's difficult to imagine any higher priority you may have at this time ... Can you please explain what you will be doing over the next two weeks that is more important than addressing these matters?"

Emmert and the NCAA have already committed to adjusting the NIL rules for student-athletes, and Emmert said he hoped to have a universal rule in place by the time football starts this fall. Several states, including California and Florida, have already passed laws that allow athletes to pursue endorsement deals, which could complicate things if there isn’t a national policy.

Though they have faced criticism for doing so, Baker and others know how important making this show of unity is now during the sports’ biggest stage.

"This is real change," Baker said, via ESPN. "This is something that could really make a difference."

While a protest or delaying games would have undoubtedly brought even more attention to the cause, Baker had another reason why they were hesitant to do anything before their first game.

Rutgers was playing in its first NCAAA tournament game in 30 years — and its first round win over Clemson was its first win in the event in 38 years.

"It was a unique situation because we hadn't made the tournament in 30 years, so I didn't want to ask guys to go out of their way to delay something or protest something that Rutgers fans haven't seen in 30 years," Baker said, via ESPN. "That's a really long time ... [but] we definitely talked about it."

Geo Baker of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Geo Baker and Rutgers nearly delayed their first NCAA tournament game. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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