Players for several teams in the NCAA Tournament took a knee during the national anthem as the first-round March Madness games kicked off Friday. 

The Associated Press reported that most players for No. 16 seed Drexel knelt during the playing of the national anthem before they played Illinois at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. 

Illinois later in the afternoon Friday beat out Drexel to advance to the second round.

Several Colgate players also took a knee before their game against No. 3 seed Arkansas at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Arkansas eventually won the matchup. 

The AP noted that several players also took a knee at the Florida-Virginia Tech at Hinkle Fieldhouse, at which Florida came out victorious. 

Kneeling during the national anthem has become an increasingly popular form of social activism among professional and college athletes. 

The practice prompted heated debates on free speech after former NFL star Colin Kaepernick began kneeling in 2016 to protest the police killings of unarmed Black people.  

This week, several prominent NCAA male players took to social media with the hashtag #NotNCAAProperty to vocalize opposition to league rules that bar athletes from earning money from their names, images and likenesses. 

The NCAA also faced scrutiny Friday after videos and photos shared to social media showed the stark differences between the mens and womens workout facilities, prompting outrage from players and sports fans alike. 

Footage showed one dumbbell rack designated for womens basketball players, compared to a complete weight facility for men’s basketball teams.

In response to the criticism, the NCAA issued an apology, admitting that officials fell short this year in what weve been doing to prepare.