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Athletes competing in the upcoming National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I men’s basketball tournament started a social media campaign Wednesday to demand association rule changes and progress on federal legislation to allow athletes to profit from their personal celebrity.

According to the National College Players Association, an organization that advocates for athlete rights, players from at least 15 college teams competing in the tournament organized the “historic protest.” The athletes are using the hashtag #NotNCAAProperty on Twitter to bring attention to their belief that their colleges exploit them and profit from their talent, an NCPA press release said.


The players are pushing for changes to NCAA rules that prohibit athletes from being paid by third parties or paid any amount that exceeds the cost of attendance to their colleges. The NCAA began work to change the rules over the last two years, however, a vote on the matter was delayed in January due to legal concerns. Four states have passed laws allowing college athletes to be paid. Federal lawmakers are currently considering multiple pieces of legislation about the issue and the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments for a consequential athlete financial aid case on March 31.

The forthcoming and potentially drastic changes to athletes' ability to profit from use of their name, image and likeness were also noted in a new report about the "changing context of college sports" by attorneys in Husch Blackwell's higher education national practice group. The Supreme Court decision "could potentially reshape the definition of amateurism in college sports. Or not," the report said. A law in Florida that allows athletes to profit from their NIL also goes into effect in July, the report said.