By Aaron Nolan
Over the past few years, there have been many cases in which the NCAA has come under scrutiny from many because of the way they handled a certain situation regarding student athletes. Quite a few of these situations involve student athletes who received what the NCAA declared “improper benefits,” which violate the NCAA’s rules and force the NCAA to declare the player ineligible to compete and continue on scholarship. Many of these cases are very similar and in the end, it seems to always close in the same result, the player loses his or her right to play, and everyone attacks the NCAA for making such a decision. While I agree that there are many cases where the NCAA should be criticized for their action, I don’t think that this weeks instance involving UCF kicker, Donald De La Haye, is one of those instances, like everyone else in the media world, is suggesting.
Donald De La Haye, a marketing major and kicker for the University of Central Florida football team, found out yesterday that he would no longer be able to play college football and would lose his scholarship after he decided that he wouldn’t de-monetize certain Youtube videos on his popular Youtube channel. Now when you first hear that, your initial reaction may be to bash the NCAA for making this young man choose between his football related Youtube videos and a college football scholarship, but once you look a little deeper, you realize that this really wasn’t the case.
In a statement released by the NCAA on Tuesday, they made it very clear that De La Haye could have kept his Youtube channel, under some specific conditions, “De La Haye decided he did not want to separate his athletically-related videos from non-athletic ones he could monetize… contrary to misperceptions, making a YouTube video — and even making money off of it – is not a violation of a NCAA rule.” So the closer you look into this, the more clear it becomes that other news sources aren’t really reporting this story correctly (Is that really a surprise). Most other sites are saying things like, “The NCAA made this football player choose between YouTube and football” which is nowhere near the case of this situation. De La Haye was clearly told, look it’s fine if you keep your YouTube channel, but from here on out you need to not monetize your videos based on your athletic reputation, prestige, or ability, as well as give back the little money you made from videos involving sports. He could have kept his YouTube channel and his thousands of subscribers, but the ONLY stipulation was, look you need to stop using the likeness of your life as a college kicker because we are an amateur organization and you can’t profit off this kind of thing. De La Haye had a few videos on his channel about trips taken with the football team, how he became a division one football player and kicking videos, which were all three the red flag for UCF and the NCAA. The thing about it though, is that De La Haye had many other videos that he could have kept monetizing, that were very good and very successful videos, so I have no doubt that De La Haye could have easily kept a very successful YouTube channel while continuing to play football at UCF.
Now here is where I will agree with a lot of people, the NCAA does look very petty trying to go after this kid for a couple hundred dollars here and there, but the NCAA had no choice but to do this, no matter how silly it makes them look. Had the NCAA allowed De La Haye to keep profiting off his image of being a NCAA football player, the real question would have become, where is the line drawn? The real reason the NCAA had to give him these restrictions is that if they didn’t, it would have opened the door for players to make videos, sign autographs, and appear in commercials, many say that allowing all of that wouldn’t affect college football, but that is far from the truth. Imagine if the gap between schools like Alabama and Ohio State were even further from everyone because the schools would promise players big commercial deals if they would come to school there, it would make college football far from what we know it today, and that’s a fact. So even if you think the NCAA had no business doing what they did, you have to realize that if they didn’t, they would have opened a whole can of worms that they aren’t ready to deal with.
As far as what is happening with De La Haye, he has since posted a couple of YouTube videos showing how upset he is over his loss of a scholarship and spot on the football team and continues saying the NCAA made him choose between an education and his YouTube channel. When you see him getting all emotional over this and see him say that he will no longer be able to afford school, it is easy to feel bad for him and side with him, but let’s remember that he is the one that chose this. De La Haye could have very easily complied with the NCAA, played football for two more years while continuing to grow his channel, and then after he graduates, he could start putting football content. The problem for me is that he showed absolutely no willingness to try and make this work, the NCAA said okay here is a compromise and then De La Haye just said no way that’s happening! It may not have been fun for De La Haye to do what the NCAA told him he had to do, but there are many people across America that do things that they don’t want to do so that they can pay for their college education. Whether it is working multiple jobs, making budget cuts, or working long hours, many people have to fight to get that college degree, so I don’t really think a little inconvenience with his YouTube channel should have made him quite college.
As for De La Haye’s dreams of earning a college degree, he is asking for support from anyone that can help, by donating whatever they can to his go fund me page. As of Thursday afternoon, he had already raised a little over $7,000. The only thing about that is if we pay for his college tuition it doesn’t teach him to deal with the consequences of his decision because he is the one who put himself in this sticky situation!
As I stated at the beginning of this article I am most of the time against the NCAA on rulings like this one, but for once I am actually siding with the NCAA. I have read stories about the NCAA not allowing players to make any kind of extra money, but that was not the case in this story. The NCAA was willing to let him keep his YouTube channel and still monetize his non-sports videos, the reason they put the restrictions is that De La Haye was profiting off his image as a NCAA kicker. I know that this is not a very popular opinion to have regarding this issue, but instead of doing the easy thing and often the most wanted thing, bashing the NCAA, I hope I have shed some light on the other side of this story that hasn’t been reported very well. Unfortunately, I predict that there will be many more challenging cases such as this one over the next couple of years, which is at some point going to force the NCAA to change policies or change the way they handle these cases. Until then though, we are left to debate how they handle present-day situations, so did the NCAA make the right choice? Instead of just going by what you hear the news anchor or sports personality says, why not decide for yourself?