YouTube or UCF? Player’s Channel Raises Amateurism Concerns

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A popular (and profitable) YouTube channel run by a University of Central Florida football player has created yet another controversy regarding the NCAA's amateurism policies.

Donald De La Haye, a marketing major and kicker at UCF, started his YouTube channel in 2015. His following has grown to more than 56,000 subscribers as of this writing, enough for him to earn a small profit through YouTube ads.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, a UCF compliance officer told De La Haye on Friday that his YouTube side hustle could put his amateur status in question.

De La Haye released a video on his channel describing the situation, titled “QUIT COLLEGE SPORTS OR QUIT YOUTUBE?”

The UCF athletics department on Monday addressed the situation in a statement, saying: “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.”

The Sentinel reports that De La Haye was never given an ultimatum on whether to choose between YouTube and his football career at the school, but rather that he will regularly meet with a compliance officer on the subject.

According to the NCAA bylaw regarding self-employment by student-athletes, De La Haye’s case is a complicated one. The rule states that 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 videos on De La Haye’s channel are mostly about his daily life — meaning his name, image and reputation are prominently featured.

It could set the stage for another fight between a student-athlete and the NCAA over the body’s amateurism rules, and who ultimately owns the right to profit from an athletes’ image. For its part, the National College Players Association, an advocacy group that represents the interests of collegiate athletes, is supporting De La Haye.

“He should have equal rights under the law and no one else on that campus is prevented from having success on YouTube and being compensated,” NCPA president Ramogi Huma told the Sentinel.

It’s possible for De La Haye to continue to run his YouTube channel without running afoul of the NCAA — but in order to do so he’d have to decline any ad revenue his videos generate.

What do you think? Should De La Haye be allowed to earn income from his popular YouTube channel? Let us know in the poll below.

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