Here we are again, faced with the NCAA’s lengthy rule book causing yet another controversy for a student-athlete. After a meeting with an unnamed NCAA employee, UCF kicker and YouTuber Donald De La Haye is at a crossroads; he needs to decide whether he wants to continue playing college football or continue making YouTube videos for his account Deestroying to earn money and help support his family back home.
The reasoning for this ultimatum is the NCAA’s concern that De La Haye will be making money with the YouTube account given his status as a Division I football player. Now the whole “college athletes earning a salary” is a discussion for another time, but apparently, to the NCAA, athletes making YouTube videos with their own resources and free time is grouped into the same category as athletes taking money for autographs. Yes, the NCAA has written rules for these situations, but the written word can be interpreted differently. There’s no clear line drawn between what student-athletes can and cannot do to earn money while in college.
In De La Haye’s case, the NCAA rules are actually prohibiting him from continuing along his career path. As a marketing major, De La Haye’s videos directly affect his career goals as well as complement what he studies in the classroom. He explains multiple times in the video that these videos are filmed, edited and produced solely by him. The money he earns from his account is a direct response to the work he has given to that account, not because of his status as an athlete. Is this not exactly what working is? To earn money for the time and effort you spent on a project? Is this not the reason why we go to school?
To continue along this career path, he would have to quit football. The NCAA rules are designed to help guide student-athletes to be just that: students who perform well in class, and athletes who perform well on the field. For De La Haye these rules are forcing him to choose to be either a student or an athlete which goes against the NCAA’s self-given motto of “supporting student-athlete success on the field, in the classroom and in life.”
The comments on De La Haye’s video show strong support for both options. Hopefully he is able to find some sort of solution because seeing him forced to give up one of his passions would be a major loss to the student-athlete community. It could also discourage multi-talented students in pursuing certain passions out of fear they will have to face a similar ultimatum. Although I feel I can’t say what I would do if I were in his situation, what I can say is that I hope this resurfaces a much needed discussion and revision of the NCAA’s rules pertaining to student-athletes earning a salary.