NCAA Approves Athletes Wearing Social Justice Statements on Their Jerseys

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2020

FILE - In this April 19, 2019, file photo, an athlete stands near a NCAA logo during a softball game in Beaumont, Texas. The NCAA is poised to take a significant step toward allowing college athletes to earn money without violating amateurism rules. The Board of Governors will be briefed Tuesday, Oct. 29 by administrators who have been examining whether it would be feasible to allow college athletes to profit of their names, images and likenesses. A California law set to take effect in 2023 would make it illegal for NCAA schools in the state to prevent athletes from signing personal endorsement deals. (AP Photo/Aaron M. Sprecher, File)
Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

The NCAA announced Thursday it will allow student-athletes in all sports to wear social justice messages on their uniforms.

The NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel voted to allow student-athletes to "wear patches on their uniforms for commemorative and memorial purposes, as well as to support social justice issues."

Players will be allowed to replace the name on the back of their jerseys with messages or names, as approved by each conference.

Student-athletes in all sports will also be allowed to wear a patch on the front of their uniform to "celebrate or memorialize people, events or other causes." This was previously allowed in most sports but not all.

Messages or names on the backs of jerseys will vary by team member, however, the patches on the front must match for all team members, although each player can choose whether or not to wear it.

This rule change brings the NCAA into alignment with other sports leagues which have supported players' efforts to continue the ongoing movement for social justice.

The NBA has "Black Lives Matter" written on the courts for the league's restart in Orlando, while players are allowed to put a pre-approved social justice message on their jerseys in place of their names. Some WNBA players have replaced their names with those who have been killed by police, including Breonna Taylor.

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MLB has allowed players to place patches on their sleeves that read "Black Lives Matter" or "United For Change."

NCAA players have also gotten involved in protests, including Heisman Trophy candidate Trevor Lawrence and other Clemson players. A group of Texas student-athletes, led by football players, called for the university to make multiple changes, including renaming buildings named after racist figures and changing the school song which had a history connected to Robert E. Lee and minstrel shows.

The social justice messages on jerseys will allow athletes in all sports to continue speaking out for racial and social justice.

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