Kicker Donald De La Haye Ruled Ineligible by UCF over YouTube Channel

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2017

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 10: Place kicker Donald De La Haye #19 of the UCF Knights kicks off after a touchdown during a college football game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines defeated the UCF Knights 51-14. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

The University of Central Florida has determined that kicker Donald De La Haye is no longer eligible to play after he continued to monetize his YouTube videos, per Joe Kepner of WFTV Sports: 

Joe Kepner @JKepnerWFTV

Statement from @UCF_Football on K Donald De La Haye. @NCAA not allowing monetized YouTube vids that depict his status as student-athlete https://t.co/ghShJximOI

Stacey Osburn of the NCAA clarified it was the school that ultimately deemed De La Haye ineligible rather than the NCAA.

Iliana Limon Romero and Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel provided more context on De La Haye's YouTube channel:

"Most of De La Haye’s 59 videos document his daily life as a UCF athlete. The kicker’s channel has jumped from 63,275 subscribers in June to 89,954 shortly after UCF announced he was ineligible Monday. De La Haye said in one of his videos he planned to send money earned via the YouTube ads home to his struggling family. He said it was a dream come true to both play college football and make advertising revenue off his passion for creating videos."

De La Haye responded to the news on Twitter:

Donald @Deestroying

All I wanted was to keep inspiring and motivating others through my content. Didn't know it would cost me my education.

Donald @Deestroying

There are SO many things wrong with the NCAA. Exhibit A right here

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According to Romero and Murschel's report, the UCF compliance office warned De La Haye in June that receiving advertising revenue on his channel could cost him his eligibility. But De La Haye remained defiant.

"I’m not stopping for anybody," he said in a video a week after that meeting.

He added, "I’m going to upload regularly to this channel. I'm not stopping that. I’m not demonetizing. I refuse to. So it’s out of my hands now."

He also questioned why the NCAA would prevent him from making money off his own YouTube channel, per B/R's David Gardner:

"It was surprising. I feel like I'm owned by the NCAA. They can use my name and my likeness to make money off of me, but I can't. I'm not out here selling autographs. I'm not boasting that I'm a UCF player. Any other YouTuber with the same amount of subscribers would make the same amount of money as me. It's a senseless rule, in my opinion, especially in the age of social media."

"If anything, I feel like I should be rewarded for what I'm doing, not punished," he added. "I don't want to toot my own horn, but I feel like I have a talent. I try to inspire people and to bring smiles to their faces."

De La Haye raised the key point in a long-held debate regarding the NCAA's stance on amateurism: Should the NCAA and its college institutions be allowed to profit off college athletes if the athletes themselves can't do the same?

The argument on one side is that allowing athletes to receive scholarships and an education is a de facto payment, and the distinction of student-athletes and amateurism is an important facet of college sports.

The argument on the other side is that, given the time commitment from college athletes and the revenue many sports create for the universities and NCAA, those athletes are entitled to a proportionate share of the profits.

De La Haye's case is an interesting one in a debate that will likely rage for years to come, especially in the social media age.

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