The NCAA Wasn’t Happy UCF’s Kickoff Specialist Was A YouTube Celebrity, So Now He’s Ineligible

If you knew Donald De La Haye’s name a few weeks ago, it was for one of two reasons. The first and far less probable reason was that you follow the football program at the University of Central Florida to some extent, and you knew that De La Haye was the team’s kickoff specialist last year. He kicked off 73 times and accrued 37 touchbacks. Not bad!

It is far more likely that you know De La Haye from YouTube, where he is known as Deestroying. He shoots, records, and edits his own videos. His channel has nearly 120,000 subscribers, and this is his most viewed video.

Seems very fun and lighthearted, no? His channel is full of videos like this, with videos like “HOW FOOTBALL PLAYERS DO CHORES..” and “CORNER BACKS BE LIKE..” Here is a video he posted in mid-June.

And here is the most recent video De La Haye posted.

If you want to watch both of them, well, you can figure out what happened. If you don’t, here’s what happened.

De La Haye was called into UCF’s compliance office and was given an ultimatum: Either stop making these videos or you cannot play college football anymore, as he was making money off of said videos. That was video one. Video two is titled “The day after I lost my scholarship.”
Long time followers of NCAA athletics can also probably guess why this happened. According to The Orlando Sentinel, De La Haye violated NCAA bylaw 12.4.4, which says any 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.”

So basically, De La Haye making a bunch of videos where he was the star and mentioned he played football with UCF gear plastered all over the place was a ticking time bomb. The NCAA was going to rule him ineligible the second the word “stop” came out of his mouth in the sentence “I don’t want to stop making these videos.”

But here’s where it starts getting really stupid. You see, the NCAA is *really* fast to point out it did not actually rule on De La Haye; UCF did. Here is Stacey Osburn, the NCAA’s Director of Public and Media Relations, simultaneously throwing the school under the bus and going all Donald Trump by calling out the HORRIBLE LYING MEDIA.

The NCAA also released a statement addressing the situation, which kind of goes against what its Director of Public and Media Relations says about how De La Haye’s career ended, because it claims he walked away from football on his own.

As for how De La Haye feels about this whole thing, here are a few tweets that he posted in response to his football career’s abrupt ending.

Because he lost his scholarship, De La Haye set up a GoFundMe to pay for his education, as he wants to continue to pursue a degree in marketing. Additionally, as he said in one of his clips, he makes money off of these videos to help support his family — he claims they are “struggling at home” and there are “tons of bills piling up,” among other things.

Alright. So! That’s all out of the way now. Here comes the part about how the NCAA is trash. Let’s dive in.

This is garbage. This is absolute garbage. There are plenty of reasons that people hate the NCAA, one of which is the way it views compensating players. I am not going to sit here and go on this massive rant about now players should or should not get paid by their universities or the NCAA, because you read that all the time and may disagree with it, and it’s not 100 percent applicable here.

Getty Image

Instead, this situation illustrates another issue with the NCAA that doesn’t get talked about enough: Players getting compensated for their own name and status as an athlete. It was an issue that popped up when Johnny Manziel was one of the biggest athletes in the nation when he was at Texas A&M, but got suspended for autographing footballs.

Manziel was suspended for one half of the Aggies’ 2013 season opener against Rice for violating NCAA bylaw, which basically says a student-athlete can’t endorse anything or be compensated for advertising a commercial product. De La Haye is a slightly different scenario — 12.4.4 has to do with “Self-Employment,” although bylaw 12 has to deal with amateurism in its entirety. You can read it all right here, or you can do literally anything else, either works.

There’s no especially great reason for why athletes can’t profit off of the fact that, you know, they’re celebrities. They are broadcasted to the world — whether it be through a segment on College GameDay or their actual games, for which massive television contracts are negotiated — and thrown into marketing materials, so television networks and schools and the NCAA all profit off of the fact that these athletes are big deals.

But the second an athlete tries to circumvent the NCAA and profit off of the fact that college sports have propelled them into stardom, they are punished. It is one of the great hypocrisies of the NCAA, which has no problem with athletes generating revenue unless it lines their pockets.

De La Haye is an example of this. He was a college athlete with a personality who tried to take a skill that he has — filming and editing videos — to do something he loves and make a little money on the side to help his family. Why he did this does not matter, because athletes making money should none of the NCAA’s business.

The difference between De La Haye and someone like Manziel is that De La Haye did this all on his own. If pressed to name one kickoff specialist from 2016, you would maybe say “that dude from Penn State” and that’s it. Only UCF fans and the most insane of college football fans knew who De La Haye the football player was, but a substantial number of people knew De La Haye the internet personality.

He made himself into something of a star, and because the NCAA didn’t like the way he did it, it stepped in and took it all away.