Donald De La Haye, a kicker on the University of Central Florida football team, has become a YouTube sensation with his life-as-a-college-athlete videos. In fact, he might be a bit too popular in the eyes of the school’s athletic department.
De La Haye has more than 52,000 subscribers and has racked up more than two million views of his 41 videos, which he started making a few years ago. That should be good news for the marketing major from Costa Rica, but his high number of followers has generated a small profit through advertisements, and that could put his NCAA eligibility in jeopardy.
He was called into a meeting late last week with the UCF compliance office, and addressed the dilemma in his latest video, titled: “Quit College Sports or Quit YouTube?
“Some people upstairs aren’t happy with my videos, and they feel like I’m violating NCAA rules,” he said in the video. “I guess I can’t make any videos that make it obvious that I’m a student-athlete, because that makes it seem like I’m using my likeness and my image to make money and all this, which I’m really not.”
The rule in question is NCAA bylaw 12.4.4, which states an athlete "may establish his or her own business, provided the student-athlete's name, photograph, appearance or athletics reputation are not used to promote the business."
The UCF athletics department released the following statement: “UCF Athletics is committed to rules compliance. Our compliance staff strives to make sure our student-athletes are informed about all pertinent NCAA bylaws. Student-athletes attend regular educational meetings regarding NCAA eligibility. One of our goals is to help our student-athletes learn about the bylaws that govern intercollegiate athletics, in an effort to help them maintain their eligibility.”
De La Haye might have to choose between continuing to make the videos and not accept revenue, or accepting revenue and quitting the football team.
“I’m working hard basically like a job filming, editing, creating ideas, doing things of that sort, and I’m not allowed to make any money. If I do, then bad things happen,” he said. “I feel like they’re making me pick between my passion in what I love to do, make videos and entertain, be creative and my other passion, which is playing football. I really have some decisions to make and not a lot of time to make those decisions. We’ll see what happens.”