Geo Baker: Rutgers, Clemson Discussed Delaying NCAA Tourney Game in Protest

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2021

Rutgers guard Geo Baker (0) plays against Illinois in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis, Friday, March 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Members of Rutgers and Clemson discussed delaying their first-round game in the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament as a form of protest against inequities in college sport. 

Scarlet Knights guard Geo Baker made the revelation in an upcoming interview on College GameDay.

"We definitely talked about delaying games," Baker said. "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."

The tide has turned against the NCAA with regard to student-athletes being compensated for their name, image and likeness, with Congress stepping in to propose legislation on the matter. The return of college sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic also led some notable stars to publicly request improved conditions at their respective schools.

During the NCAA tournament, the #NotNCAAProperty movement has emerged. Baker explained its goals, which largely focus on NIL compensation, earlier this month on Twitter:

Geo Baker @Geo_Baker_1

The argument is simple. We deserve an opportunity to create money from our name, image, and likeness. If you don’t agree with that statement, then you are saying that you believe that I, a human being, should be owned by something else. #NotNCAAProperty https://t.co/BOehxsjruE

Michigan forward Isaiah Livers, who's out with a stress fracture in his foot, wore a #NotNCAAProperty shirt while on the bench for the Wolverines' first-round victory over Texas Southern:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Isaiah Livers showed up to Michigan's tournament game wearing a "Not NCAA Property" shirt. https://t.co/hv7R5Z8mtm

If Rutgers and Clemson had followed through, it wouldn't have been the first time teams utilized that tactic.

Shortly after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court against the Orlando Magic for an NBA playoff game. Their wildcat strike triggered a temporary stoppage across multiple sports leagues.

With regard to the Scarlet Knights, Baker explained how he felt conflicted because the program hadn't reached the NCAA tournament since 1991.

"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," he said in the College GameDay interview.

Rutgers ultimately beat Clemson before falling to second-seeded Houston in the next round.