UCF kicker Donald De La Haye is something of a YouTube star. With a channel boasting over 50,000 subscribers, he’s carved out a nice little space for himself on the internet.
He’s got plenty of videos making fun of what it’s like to be a college athlete, and many of them have over 100,000 views each. But he’s at a crossroads now thanks to the school’s compliance department.
De La Haye was called into the compliance department and told that he cannot make money off of his YouTube videos.
On Thursday, another one of De La Haye’s videos showed up on YouTube video titled “(College sports) be like,” and it features a guy in a suit wearing sunglasses that stops the kicker from doing everyday things. It’s probably safe to say the mysterious guy shutting him down could represent the NCAA.
Earlier this week, De La Haye spoke further about the issue with Sports Illustrated.
“Maybe it’s time for someone to actually try to fight back,” he told SI.
“I feel like it’s about time for things to be changed,” De La Haye continued. “…The times these rules were made weren’t really up to par with what’s going on in the real world today.
If you rack up the views like he does, it’s actually pretty easy to make at least some money off of your videos.
In 2012, YouTube announced a partners program that would allow content producers to share with YouTube the ad revenue from their videos. The company had allowed some ad sharing as early as 2007, but the simplicity of the new model set off a gold rush: All creators have to do is click a button agreeing to let Google sell advertising that will appear on their site in return for a share of the revenue.
“So far it feels like a David and Goliath type of fight,” De La Haye said via Sports Illustrated. “I really don’t have any help right now. I’m just a 20-year-old.”
The videos by themselves are pretty funny, and they’re also pretty well done, given that De La Haye is an amateur YouTuber.
But there’s a chicken/egg scenario at play here too. Are people watching his videos because he’s an athlete, or just because they’re pretty good? That’s what would really land the school in hot water.
In a similar case, a Minnesota wrestler was ruled ineligible to compete unless he made music videos under an alias. It’s not even the fact that that wrestler or De La Haye actually made money because of their names (and there’s nothing to prove either did). It’s the mere fact that they could, due to their athlete standing.
It doesn’t mean he has to stop making his videos, but it does take an incentive for him out of making them.
He says he’s a marketing major, and claims that videos like these are an extension of his major program, which I’d argue he’s right about. He’s passionate about video production and says it hearkens back to when his father filmed his family events when he was a kid. He’d like to give any of the money earned from the videos back to his family as they struggle with bills, but that won’t happen.
The NCAA likes to boast about having the majority of its athletes go pro in something other than sports, yet De La Haye is having his knees cut out from under him in that pursuit. At the end of the video (which takes you through De La Haye’s preparation for the meeting throughout the day) he says that the conclusion UCF’s compliance office came to was that he cannot make money off of his likeness.
While the NCAA insists on leveling the playing field between regular students and student athletes in that respect, when it comes to an athlete making money off of his or her likeness, there is no wiggle room. A regular student could make vlogs and make money off of them as much as they’d like. De La Haye, and athletes like him, cannot, and the organization’s hypocrisy continues.