The NCAA is back to doing what they do best… being the minor-league NFL (no fun league).
This isn’t a baseball story, but news of the NCAA being dick-bags is relevant to all college athletes.
Donald De La Haye is a kicker at UCF with a BOOMING YouTube Channel. The guy kicks footballs and makes electric content on the web. As a former college athlete + media nerd, I love & respect the combo. But my guy is having a problem I was fortunate not to have. The NCAA / UCF compliance department is up his ass about the compliance issues stemming from his YouTube channel.
The NCAA has a list of rules a mile long, mostly on what you CAN’T do. Without searching through to find the actual wording of the rules, an athlete is not allowed to use his “image or likeness” for monetary gain.
De La Haye’s YouTube channel contains a lot of content highlighting the ins and outs of life as a college athlete. Though I believe he consciously doesn’t mention his school or sport directly, it’s not a difficult find. Looking at this through a black and white lens, the NCAA might have a real argument here. But it’s not that simple. It never is.
The problem here isn’t the enforcement of the rule, but the rule itself. I can understand there being lines drawn on student-athletes related to the business end of their brand. That’s a conversation that’s being had up and down the court system, and a topic I could go on all day about. But in the case of Donald De La Haye’s YouTube channel, how much more innocent could an athlete be? He’s been making videos for years. He’s been editing videos since before he was a college athlete. He’s talented. He claims to want to do this as a career. And as someone very close to this topic, I can tell you he’s not making a ton of money with the numbers of views he’s getting. Sure to a college kid I bet it’s a really nice income, but nowhere near in the ballpark of what we’d be talking about during an ACTUAL NCAA violation on this topic.
Look, I don’t want to debating how to rewrite the NCAA student-athlete rule book. I think there are very few people on this earth that have thought this through well enough to be able to. Personally, I don’t think athletes should be paid hundreds of thousands in royalties through jersey sales and things like that. But a player’s brand is something he can carry on well after his football career. If it’s done in good taste with good intentions and a lot of skill, the way Donald De La Haye is on YouTube, we need to be encouraging this, not punishing it.