NCAA To Allow Social Justice Statements On Uniforms

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Thursday morning approved a rule that will allow student-athletes in all sports to wear patches on their uniforms or alter their nameplates for commemorative and memorial purposes or to promote social justice causes.

The previous rules did not allow for or address the topic of patches in some sports, but panel members – who met by videoconference last week – wanted student-athletes to have the opportunity “to express support and voice their opinions.” 

The patch must not exceed 2¼ square inches and must be placed on either the front or sleeve of the uniform. Team members will not be required to wear the patch, but those who do must wear identical patches. The nameplates, on the other hand, can be unique to each player, but must be authorized by the individual schools and conferences.

With Thursday’s announcement, the NCAA joins the MLB, NBA and WNBA in allowed athletes to express their views on their uniforms. The NFL, meanwhile, will reportedly allowed decals on helmets this fall that bear the name or initials of victims of police brutality and systematic racism.

FBS and FCS teams wore uniform patches last fall to commemorate the 150th anniversary of college football’s first game. Most teams participated in the celebration, but the location of said patch or decal varied by school.

Football and basketball programs have also worn commemorative patches or helmet decals in the past to honor former players and coaches who have passed away, or when they’ve reached a conference championship, bowl game or postseason tournament. However, this marks the first time the NCAA has allowed for individual expression on a player’s uniform.

Header photo and illustration by Andrew Lind, jersey photo courtesy of @LSUfootball on Twitter.