Two veteran college basketball players plan to use Wednesday night’s game between Pittsburgh and No. 20 Michigan to publicly promote the NCAA and its schools to share earnings with athletes.
Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson and Pitt’s Jamarius Burton are among a group of athletes who will write the letter S on their hands during this season’s games to mark their attempt to champion a new business model in college sports. The S, according to the players, stands for share.
They hope to ramp up demands for the NCAA to change its rules so the federation and its school can allocate more of its resources to athletes.
Their efforts are the latest addition to widespread efforts among athletes, attorneys and politicians to expand the benefits college athletes receive — a list that includes expanded education-related benefits and the relatively new opportunity to make money by selling the includes rights to their name and image or likeness.
“NIL has opened the floodgates for things like this,” Dickinson said. “It is now easier to see how misleading the idea of amateurism in sport is. … To see how much money athletes get makes shows how much is in collegiate sports and how much some are hoarding.”
Dickinson said he and Burton are part of a group of players who have connected via conference calls over the past few weeks to discuss the campaign. He said he plans to draw an S on his hand for Wednesday night’s game and then chart other steps he and others might take during what may be his last season in the NCAA.
Her campaign is being organized in part by the National College Players Association, an advocacy group that has sought to transform collegiate sports through legislation, legal action and public pressure for the NCAA over the past turbulent few years.
In addition to demanding a profit-sharing deal, the players said in a press release they wanted to find ways to protect the existence of non-revenue sports, enforce Title IX rules, improve security and medical care, and ensure Congress didn’t federate creates legislation that would take back the newly introduced NIL rules and open the door to Ivy League scholarship funds.
The Ivy League does not offer athletic scholarships. The group of prestigious universities previously had a Congressional waiver from antitrust to allow it to do so, but it expired earlier this year. Now, some players say the policy is against the law and limits their options. Dickinson said the issue is important to him because he has friends who play in the Ivy League.
Brown basketball player Grace Kirk said in a press release that limiting the ways athletes can receive financial aid is preventing some high-level athletes from exploring the possibility of Ivy League education.
“We work just as hard as any other DI team,” Kirk said. “Doing it without scholarship opportunities adds another difficult element to our intense combination of training and study. Unfortunately, some top athletes cannot make the financial sacrifice to play for Ivy League schools without scholarship funds.”
NCPA leader Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA soccer player, said the group plans to engage lawmakers and other law enforcement agencies to try to meet those goals. Huma filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board last year to allow college athletes to unionize. This case is pending. He and the NCPA also recently filed a complaint with the Justice Department.
Huma said they propose that some of the revenue from football and basketball programs should be split evenly among all the players on the team. Previously, the NCPA has assisted college basketball players in organizing a social media protest during the 2021 March Madness tournament, among other things. Some of Dickinson’s former teammates have been at the forefront of this push.
“This time it was kind of my duty to agree because of the guys who got promoted earlier,” he said.
Dickinson said he doesn’t expect the changes he’s championing to be implemented during his time as a collegiate athlete, but said he does want future athletes to have their fair share of the value they create. He said he had no plans to protest in any other way than to show public support for the campaign.