Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon pokes fun at NCAA over souvenir rug, and it goes viral
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Jordan Bohannon couldn't help himself.
The Iowa point guard was scrolling through his Twitter feed Sunday when he saw a Wall Street Journal story about basketball players taking NCAA Tournament rugs from locker rooms and bringing them home as souvenirs.
Bohannon knew that his teammate Nicholas Baer had done just that. He had a photo of the rug in Baer's apartment as proof. Bohannon also feels that the NCAA is a target ripe for a little tweaking from time to time.
"I thought it was the perfect time to stir the pot a little bit, crack a joke," Bohannon told the Register on Monday. "I think it was how much publicity a single rug got. The Wall Street Journal, with 16 million followers on Twitter, published an article in their timeline about a single rug. I thought that was pretty hilarious."
So did many of Bohannon's 17,000 Twitter followers after he sent a picture of the rug in Baer's apartment with the dire message: "Give us the ability to make money off our own name and we’ll give you your rug back. You have 24 hours, @NCAA. @Nicholas_Baer."
The tweet has more than 13,000 likes and 169 replies. It got the attention of national basketball media personalities such as Rachel Nichols, Jay Bilas and Dan Dakich.
Nine hours later, Bohannon walked things back a little, tweeting: "After much deliberation, the @NCAA has agreed with the @uiowa the rug can stay in Iowa City as long as I issue a mea culpa. With that, I am sorry for my actions. No one is denying the incredible opportunities the NCAA provides for athletes like myself. I am forever grateful."
Bohannon said he sent that tweet after the NCAA contacted Iowa officials and clarified that the rug did not need to be returned. The Wall Street Journal story quoted two NCAA officials offering different opinions on the matter, which further amused Bohannon.
Bohannon said he does believe athletes should have the opportunity to benefit financially from use of their name while in college. It's a position his older brother, Zach, also espoused when playing at Wisconsin.
"I think it's kind of bizarre them saying that a student-athlete can't go out and use their own name, image or likeness to profit off of. It doesn't make much sense to me," Bohannon said. "I'm sure the majority of the population would agree with that."
"I was joking around with the first tweet. I wanted to make a statement a little bit, but I didn't want it to be too serious," Bohannon added.
Bohannon had not heard from anyone at the NCAA as of late Monday afternoon. He had met with his coach, Fran McCaffery, who "has always been one to have my back, no matter what."
He'd also heard from a reporter with the Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal reached out as well, but Bohannon wasn't sure he was going to agree to that interview.
Bohannon said he did take a towel and a clothes hanger from the locker room in Columbus, Ohio, after the Hawkeyes were eliminated from the tournament by Tennessee in the second round. That is allowed by the NCAA.
As for Baer, the lone senior on the team who is now widely known to have an NCAA Tournament rug as a keepsake:
"I don't know if he was too happy that I put him in that tweet — kind of exposed him like that," Bohannon said.
"But I don't think he would ever give that rug back. It's a national treasure now."