The Real Truth on UCF Kicker Debacle

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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After Wild Ride Munoz Has Chance for First Tour Win

By Aaron Nolan
White Sulphur Springs, WV

 

Often times people get involved in a sport because their parents start them out at a young age or maybe they just have a natural interest and passion for the sport, but for current Greenbrier Classic leader Sebastian Munoz, golf was his way out. Munoz was born in Columbia and used golf as his way to come to college in the United States, “Basically I just went to college to kind of escape Colombia. Not escape, but like try to find a different thing, what I really wanted.”

While Munoz was trying to find what he really wanted, he found himself playing college golf at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. During his first few years of college golf Munoz admits that he wasn’t trying very hard, “First couple of years I just took it pretty easy. I wasn’t playing very good… then my coach threatened to take away my scholarship.” Munoz knew that there was no way he could afford to continue college if he lost his scholarship, so he decided that he should start playing better, which is exactly what he did.

In 2013 Munoz’s college teammate Carlos Ortiz graduated from college and headed out to the Web.com tour where he found immediate success, winning three tournaments in his first season. Seeing his former teammate have so much success caused Munoz to realize that he too could potentially do the same. “I talked to [Ortiz] and was like, hey man I know you are good, but come on, I can beat you sometimes,” which Ortiz agreed on and told Munoz to keep on trying.

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Following that conversation, Munoz started to take golf a lot more seriously and found immediate success, winning two college golf tournaments, including the 2015 Conference USA individual golf championship. After his time as a college golfer Munoz decided that he would pursue the game of golf at the professional level and was a member of the Web.com tour in 2016. In his first season on the Web.com tour, Munoz won the Columbia championship by one shot, which gave him barely enough money earned to get a PGA Tour card for this season.

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Since Munoz was number 46th of the 50 Web.com tour players to earn a tour card, he has been having trouble getting a spot in events. The Greenbrier Classic is only his twelfth start of his career, but the lack of opportunities to play in tournaments doesn’t have Munoz down, “I’m in a tough spot, and just trying to make the best out of it. Not trying to think too much into it how lucky or bad things are going. I have the chance to play, and here I am.” Munoz has no doubt stepped up his play this week at the Greenbrier Classic and no matter what the result is come Sunday evening, he is just thankful for the opportunity to be competing on the biggest stage.

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When the fans are lining the fairways on Sunday afternoon and the shots are becoming more pressure filled by the minute, Munoz will be loving every second of it, supporting that wide smile that fans have grown to love all week. He knows that he is in a very rare position for a rookie going into Sunday, but no matter what the outcome is, remember the story of Munoz and how sometimes in life all it takes is a simple push by a friend or coach, to change a life.

Age Not a Factor in Round One of Greenbrier Classic

By Aaron Nolan
White Sulphur Springs, WV

 

So often on the PGA Tour the topic of conversation is centered around the youth of the tour and how the game is becoming more centered around the young guys, but no one is telling Davis Love III that after his first round. The fifty-three year old veteran tour player showed everyone in the golf world that age is not going to be a factor at the 2017 Greenbrier Classic. Love defied all expectations on Thursday morning as he opened up his 2017 Greenbrier Classic by firing 63 to put him in the hunt after day one. The twenty-one time PGA tour winner got off to a hot start with birdies on four of his first five holes to start the day, which gave him plenty of momentum to put together his best round ever here at the Greenbrier.

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The rainfall the course received over the past few days gave the pros perfect scoring conditions, which Love was glad he took advantage of, “It was one of those days where you knew there were going to be some really good scores. The greens are perfect. Thursday morning on tour are the best greens of the week. Not going to get any better than that. I’m glad I took advantage of it.”

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Love certainly took full advantage of the soft golf course, but also had to admit that he got a few lucky breaks along the way. “I had a couple that could have gone either way and I made birdies when I could have made pars. That turned the round from something good to something great.” One of those birdies came on the par five seventeenth where Love left his approach about 20 feet short of the green and followed it up by chipping it in. After chipping in on seventeen Love looked at his caddy and told him that the chip in was a result of the forty-five minutes of extra time spent practicing the night before.

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Spending extra time practicing is something Love has done quite a bit recently and is glad that he is finally seeing some results. “I’ve been working really hard the last couple weeks trying to fix my swing to kind of swing around a stiff back and hip. I put a lot of time in hitting balls and trying to get back to hitting it solid. A lot of hard work is starting to pay off, and hopefully the rest of the summer I can keep it going.” Love also recently decided that he is done trying to hit the ball a country mile like the young guys, “I’ve given it up on hitting it a long way. I’m just telling myself I have to hit is straight. This is a perfect golf course for me. If you get it in the fairway, everybody has an opportunity from the fairway.”

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Love will be back at on Friday afternoon here at the Old White TPC and will be looking to add another good round to his week at the Greenbrier. Despite being twice as old as some of the players in the field, Love is in the hunt, showing many here at the Greenbrier that age won’t be a factor this week at the Greenbrier Classic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gordon Hayward Heading North to Join a Title Contender

By: Trey Montgomery

It’s no secret that the Cavaliers and Warriors have dominated their respective conferences over the past three years. Some teams are planning to wait this run out and begin rebuilding while the two powerhouses go at each other for the next 3-5 years. Other teams are trying to build a powerhouse of their own and somehow claw their way to a Finals appearance by knocking off one of these two Goliaths. The Celtics have chosen the latter. With the announcement of Gordon Hayward signing a 4 year/$128 million deal with Boston, it certainly looks like the Celtics are building a team to compete with the Cavaliers.

One factor that may have affected Hayward’s decision more than many people realize is the coaching staff. The Celtics’ head coach, Brad Stevens, coached Hayward during his two years at the University of Butler. Together, they were one half court shot away from knocking off Duke and winning the National Championship at the 2010 Final Four. After that season, Hayward was drafted by the Utah Jazz and shortly after, Stevens was called up to the big leagues to coach for the Boston Celtics. Neither of them anticipated that, eight years later, they would be reunited.

 

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Stevens (left) and Hayward (right) during a practice while the two were together at Butler University.

Gordon has been slowly improving in the his seven years in the NBA, which can be seen by his increase in points per game every season. This past year, Hayward averaged a career high in both points per game (21.9) and rebounds per game (5.4) while also making his first All-Star appearance of his career. He is sure to help a Celtics’ team that has had struggles both offensively and defensively at the small forward position. With rumors already swirling about Marc Gasol making his move to Boston, these Celtics are prepping to give the Cavaliers a run for their money in the East.

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Hayward has increased his scoring totals every year he’s been in the NBA.

Gordon Hayward is leaving the Utah Jazz with little to no chance at making a title run any time soon. With Rudy Gobert making the All-NBA Second Team this past season, the Jazz will have to build around him and somehow find a player to fill the gaping hole that Hayward left. At the end of the day, Hayward wants to win a championship, and the Celtics may have the third best chance in the league to get that done.

Local Pro Sets Expectations High For 2017 Classic

By Tim Zuspan

Christian Brand, a WV Amateur and two-time WV Open winner, is setting his expectations high for this year’s 2017 Greenbrier Classic. A West Virginia native and Marshall University alumnus, he is excited to be returning to his home state for this year’s tournament. He is having a solid year on the web.com Tour, with two top-twenty finishes to account for this season. Brand said that he has been, “working hard,” and is proud of himself for receiving a sponsor exemption for this year’s Classic.IMG_6307

Brand won the WV Amateur back in 2011 at the Greenbrier and then played in the 2011 Greenbrier Classic. He struggled that year at the Classic and failed to make the cut. He said, “…when I played as an amateur, I didn’t know what to expect and I wasn’t ready for it at all…this year I know what the first tee is going to be like,” and feels this will give him a confidence to play well this week.IMG_6302

 

Brand is now setting the bar high and said that his expectation is, “ To win. …if you don’t aim high you won’t miss high. If you set the bar low, all of a sudden you will start creeping down the leaderboard, so you have to try and win…I try to visualize myself winning from week to week.” Christian Brand believes winning would mean “everything” to him and his community after last year’s tragedy. He loves the newly remodeled course and is excited to have the opportunity to play in this year’s Greenbrier Classic.

 

Politics and Golf Collide at Greenbrier Pro-am

By Aaron Nolan
White Sulphur Springs, WV

 

Wednesdays are pro-am day on the PGA Tour and they certainly have a different feel from the rest of a tournament week, during a pro-am professionals get a chance to relax a little bit and play a round with some local amateurs or national celebrities. The 2017 Greenbrier Classic pro-am field was filled with many big names this year such as J.R. Smith, Larry Fitzgerald, and Willie Robertson, but for Phil Mickelson things were much more political than normal for a Wednesday. Mickelson got the opportunity to play his pro-am round with three prominent political figures in the state of West Virginia: Senators Shelly Moore Capito and Joe Manchin alongside current chief of staff of Governor Jim Justice, Nick Casey.

When asked before his round his thoughts on playing with the three, Mickelson said, “I’m looking forward to having a chance to ask them a lot of questions, I love having a chance to spend time with people who are so knowledgable on a wide variety of topics. I had a chance to play with Senator Manchin years ago when I first played here and really enjoyed my time.”

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Mickelson certainly wasted no time getting to his questions out on the course as he was overheard asking Senator Manchin about the continued recovery efforts around the area, following last years historic flood. Throughout the afternoon Mickelson walked along with the senators and carried on lengthy conversations about what is going on around Capitol Hill and the state of West Virginia.

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While some would think a day on the golf course would be a break from the typical stress of a day on Capital Hill, both Capito and Manchin were hard at work between golf shots. They spent the afternoon shaking hands, taking pictures, and fielding questions regarding legislation. The senate health care bill was a prominent topic of conversation as many spectators pleaded for Manchin and Captio to repeal and replace Obamacare. “We are doing what we can to get it fixed,” was the typical response from Senator Manchin as he listened to spectator after spectator tell him their story regarding health care.

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While Wednesday’s pro-am was certainly a learning experience for everybody in the group, come Thursday morning things will be business as usual for Mickelson out on the golf course. Mickelson is yet to make a cut at the Greenbrier Classic and will be looking to finally play the weekend at the Old White TPC. While Mickelson’s success this week is certainly no guarantee, it is certain he will leave this years Classic with a greater appreciation for the state of West Virginia and its people following his political encounter on a simple Wednesday afternoon in White Sulphur.

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Classic Will Be Bigger Than a Sporting Event

By Aaron Nolan
White Sulphur Springs, WV

 

When you walk around the Old White TPC and see the best players in the world playing on one of the nicest golf courses in America, it’s hard to remember what took place just over a year ago here at the Greenbrier. It’s hard to remember the raging waters tearing through the city of White Sulphur, the twenty-six people who lost their lives, and the sound of people saying the Greenbrier wouldn’t be ready to host the 2017 golf tournament.

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At a “Neighbors Loving Neighbors” private luncheon on Tuesday a room full of people gathered to reflect on last years tragedy, but most importantly to celebrate the recovery efforts by those at the Greenbrier. Two time Masters champion and Greenbrier resident Bubba Watson had high praise for all those who helped with the recovery, “I applaud everybody from the great state of West Virginia, White Sulphur Springs, and everyone from each and every county. It’s been an honor to see you all and see you all live through it and get better each day.” Accomponied by his wife Angie, the two discussed how they are West Virginians at heart and as soon as they saw the devastation, they were eager to do what they could to help out with the recovery.

The unexpected part for Angie Watson was that instead of touching others, she was the one who was impacted the most. “I offered my time expecting to help, but what those people that we helped did for me was more astounding than what I could have done for them. I experienced the definition of true Biblical hospitality and love. I believe the definition of that is to show people love in your good times and bad times. I had walked into people’s houses that had lost everything just a couple of days before and they had coffee for me, they had lunch for me, they showed me love, they were so happy to have me and to me it’s the true definition of love and what West Virginia is all about,” said an emotional Watson.

Bubba and Angie Watson are not only learning from the people of White Sulphur Springs, but also trying to teach their son Caleb some important life lessons, “We’re trying to tell him the story that he needs to love everybody. Neighbors loving neighbors, you know. We’re trying to teach him even at four years old how to give back and be a part of a community,” said Bubba.

After the Watson family shared their appreciation and love for the people of West Virginia and checks were presented to Neighbors Loving Neighbors, Jim Nantz of CBS closed the afternoon talking about the story he will be telling from the booth this weekend. “It’s going to be a special event and we’ve got a great story coming together. That story this week, it’s going to be special no matter the winner, it’s going to be a dynamic, great moment, but can you imagine what that moment will be like if that champion is Bubba Watson on Sunday? There wouldn’t be a dry eye on the green, in the booth, or in every living room across America. And there won’t be a dry eye anyway as we tell the story of the resiliency and greatness of the state of West Virginia,” said Nantz.

While Watson holding the Springhouse Trophy on Sunday would be a perfect scenario to cap off this emotional week, this week is going to be special no matter the outcome on Sunday. Nantz stated it so perfectly when he stated, “This week is so much bigger than a sporting event.” What Nantz said in a quiet corner of the Greenbrier really hit home with all those in the room. Often times in sports there is a story that just means more than the event itself, and that is no doubt the case this week at the Greenbrier. The real story this week isn’t about who’s in the field, who’s going to win, or what the course looks like, it’s about the people of White Sulphur and how they have battled back and continue to battle back from one of the biggest challenges they will ever face. This week, unlike most weeks on the PGA, the story and the tournament itself is so much bigger than the game of golf.