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Title: A College Football Player Lost His Scholarship Because of YouTube Videos. Now He's Fighting Back.
Source: Reason
URL Source: https://reason.com/blog/2017/12/02/ ... football-player-lost-his-schol
Published: Dec 2, 2017
Author: Eric Boehm
Post Date: 2017-12-02 13:54:47 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 406
Comments: 4

While technically a nonprofit, the National Collegiate Athletic Association pulls down nearly $1 billion in annual revenues, thanks in large part to multi-million-dollar deals with television networks that want to showcase America's best college athletes playing football, basketball, and a bunch of other sports.

There's nothing wrong with that, of course. The market for televised sports is hotter, and more valuable, than it's ever been.

But when one of those valuable student-athletes had the nerve to earn a few thousand dollars running a popular YouTube channel—one that gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a college football player—the NCAA told him to give up his videos or give up his place on the team. When he chose to keep making videos, his scholarship to attend the University of Central Florida was revoked by the school.

Now, Donald De La Haye, the former kicker for the UCF Knights football team, is ready to take legal action against the university unless his scholarship is restored.

"It's really tough," De La Haye said in a video from July, shortly after he learned that his scholarship would be revoked. "I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm not making money illegally. I'm not selling dope. I'm not kidnapping people or robbing people. I'm not selling my autographs for money. I'm not sitting here getting Nike checks and Nike deals and all these sponsorships. I'm literally filming stuff. I'm sitting here, editing things on my computer for hours and developing my own brand. I put in the work, and I'm not allowed to get any benefits from the work."

There's nothing illegal about the videos De La Haye posts to his "Deestroying" account on YouTube. They feature his daily routines and workouts. Others include funny moments with friends and teammates. And some—like one where he destroyed a flat-screen TV by kicking it off the top floor of a parking garage—are just downright weird and funny.

The videos have gained De La Haye quite a following. He's got more than 350,000 subscribers, enough to earn money from the advertisements YouTube allows on high-end accounts. According to SocialBlade.com, a website that assesses the potential value of social media accounts, De La Haye could earn somewhere between $2,000 and $31,000 a month.

In the video announcing the NCAA's ultimatum to him, De La Haye says he was sending some of his YouTube money to his family in Costa Rica, because they have "tons of bills piling up and there's no way for me to help."

That didn't matter to the NCAA, which in July told Central Florida that De La Haye would be ineligible to play college football unless he stopped making videos about football—though he would have been allowed to make videos about other topics (videos that would likely get fewer views and earn the student-athlete less advertising revenue), the Orlando Sentinel reported at the time.

After De La Haye decided not to agree to those terms, the football team dismissed him and the university revoked his scholarship. He was given 72 hours to remove himself and all his belongings from university housing. With no where else to turn, he ended up living with a friend and sleeping on a sofa.

The NCAA claimed De La Haye violated bylaw 12.4.4, which says a student-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." Never mind that it's exactly what the NCAA does when it sells college football to television audiences.

More importantly, De La Haye has a First Amendment right to record himself and post those videos to YouTube. Attorneys for the Arizona-based Goldwater Foundation and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a pair of free market think tanks, have taken up De La Haye's case.

"Freedom of expression is one of our fundamental rights guaranteed through the United States Constitution," says Robert Henneke, director of the Center for the American Future at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. "Donald did not forfeit his rights to free speech simply because his athletic gifts allow him to pay for his college education through a football scholarship."

Courts have held that universities may not withhold benefits like scholarships on a basis that violates an individual's First Amendment rights, Jon Riches, the director of national litigation for the Goldwater Institute, pointed out in a letter sent this week to Central Florida.

The NCAA's rules limit what student-athletes may do, but the university is solely responsible for issuing and revoking scholarships. That Central Florida would pull a scholarship from a student-athlete who has been an upstanding member of the collegiate community is "an astonishing result," Riches wrote, "considering universities throughout the country impose far less severe punishments against students who commit actual misconduct."

In a new video posted this week, De La Haye said he hopes to open the way for other student-athletes to be allowed to express themselves on social media without fear of losing their scholarships or NCAA eligibility.

"They really put my college career on hold," he says, "just for exercising my right to free speech."

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#1. To: Deckard (#0)

It's pretty simple: if you play in the NCAA, you cannot make money off of your sport - period. Not directly, and not indirectly. He is making money off of his sport - advertising fees on YouTube. That's prohibited. His scholarship was not immediately yanked. He was told about the problem and given the chance to stop. Instead of following the rules, he chose to dig in and fight - against the school that lets him play football.

He had no right to play football at all, and no right to a scholarship. Both are a privilege, and was granted both of those privileges. The privileges come with rules and strings attached. He chose to disregard the rules and the string.

He was warned, and he chose to defy. So he lost. It's simple and it's sane: that's how the world works.

And in this case, unlike Kaepernick's, the rule is clearly WRITTEN, understood by everybody, and he was given clear warnings and chances to change course. He chose the route of defiance. It's very much like the case of the mouse, with several quick and easy exits from his predicament on all sides, who chooses instead to stand and face the cat. Doomed.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-12-02   14:55:09 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#2. To: Vicomte13 (#1)

Their rules are corrupt so that they enrich themselves and the players get zero.

If they receive federal funds they can't suppress his free speech rights.

Show me these rules you are referring to. I think you are just assuming they make your case. You haven't even read the rules

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-12-02   15:28:35 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#3. To: A K A Stone (#2)

Show me these rules you are referring to. I think you are just assuming they make your case. You haven't even read the rules

My daughter is heading towards an sports scholarship and had the opportunity to be endorsed by certain manufacturers of sports products. I have had to become very acquainted with the NCAA rules regarding what student-athletes may and may not do regarding anything that has to do with earning money.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-12-02   23:20:24 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#4. To: Vicomte13 (#3)

That's great. Fencing has the same rules as football according to you. It should be really easy for you to quote the rule you are referring to. So go ahead and post it if you actually read the text which I doubt.

I suspect you just surmise that but haven't actually read the rules personally.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-12-03   1:43:06 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

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