Some of the most intriguing news happening this offseason is happening on the campus of the University of Central Florida and it doesn’t involve the star running back or quarterback, but the kicker. Unless you have been living in some destitute cave for the past several weeks you have heard about UCF kicker Donald De La Haye and his YouTube channel catching the ire of the NCAA. The NCAA wants him to shut down his channel. De La Haye has stated that he wants to see the NCAA make him shut down the channel.
Now we have a showdown between the kicker of UCF and the gigantic NCAA. Not only is he challenging the NCAA, but he’s also challenging UCF to see if they are willing to back his side. We do not know at the moment if UCF will go ahead and suspend De La Haye as a precaution. UCF has had trouble with the NCAA in the past and this circumstance certainly is something that they can allow to go away by suspending him before the NCAA steps in.
If UCF suspends him, it would be par for the course. It is very rare, in fact I have never seen an instance where when under scrutiny, the university doesn’t bend to the pressure and either make a preemptive move, or a reactive move on behalf of the NCAA. Odds are the UCF compliance office will not back De La Haye. Which would put him on an island.
De La Haye’s defiance however, especially the longer UCF holds out on making any sort of move is interesting. Does he have a legal case to keep his YouTube channel? Any other student that goes to the school is allowed to make money off a Youtube channel or any other creative outlet. Why can’t a student athlete do the same? Does the NCAA have the legal authority to actually stop his channel? We know the NCAA has a tremendous amount of authority when it comes to student athletes, but that doesn’t mean they can stop De La Haye from producing his content and making a profit from it.
If UCF suspends De La Haye before the NCAA steps in, what will be his next move? It’s very possible that this matter will land in the courts. The fact De La Haye isn’t relenting means he’s likely prepared for a legal battle. The next question is can he win? This is a unique case considering it’s diving into the realm of a media landscape that has vastly changed over the past decade. The fact that De La Haye creates his own content and uses the mechanism built within the YouTube model to make some money off his creative work places this situation is a very gray area. The NCAA believes they own all rights to everything including the likeness of every student athlete currently enrolled in a participating institution. It’s their position that in a case such as De La Haye is that he’s using his association with the program to heighten his profile on YouTube.
Now the gray area is in the fact that it’s an assumption by the NCAA that because of his association with the UCF football program, he has leverage to have a bigger following. However can that be proven by the NCAA? De La Haye can claim that his creative productions have gained a following on it’s merits alone. It looks like this is the battlefield he wants to play this in. It will be interesting to see first off what UCF decides to do. Will they actually back their student athlete and force the NCAA’s hand? Or will they take a preemptive measure and suspend the young man? If it’s the latter will De La Haye take this to court?
My two cents is that I applaud the young man for taking a stand and openly challenging a system that basically is a racket. It would be nice to see a university for once stand behind a student athlete, but I’m not holding my breath there. It would also be nice to see De La Haye actually win a court battle. That however may end up taking place several years from now. For right now, De La Haye is standing up for pretty much every student athlete in this country. For that it takes quite the bit of courage.