On Monday, University of Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye was deemed ineligible after the player refused to stop making videos on his popular YouTube page, that is garnering advertising revenue for the student athlete. According to the NCAA De La Haye could have continued playing football for UCF, under the condition that his videos were not to showcase his life as a NCAA athlete.
De La Haye declined the NCAA offer and is no longer allowed to play college football. The NCAA, in an attempt to spin the story, released this tweet:
To clarify media misreporting, UCF declared Donald De La Haye ineligible, not the NCAA.
— Stacey Osburn (@NCAAStacey) July 31, 2017
De La Haye has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for his remaining education at UCF, where he is currently a junior. After just one full day, De La Haye raised over $7,900 as of press time, well on his way to the $30,000 goal he is seeking. Legal options are also on the table if De La Haye wants to fight for his remaining NCAA eligibility.
In a previous article, I said that it was time for the NCAA to begin paying their “student-athletes.” I use quotation marks for the term “student-athlete” because these young men and women are more athlete than a student. No matter the sport, college teams spend hours on the field week after week practicing and playing games, with not much focus on the classroom by coaches and administrators. The “student-athlete” card has been pulled over and over by the NCAA and to great success to the NCAA.
You now have a case where a “student-athlete” finds a way to make money on his own away from the NCAA. De La Haye finds his niche in a new form of technology and instead of embracing it, the NCAA uses their typical strong arm, mafia style of enforcement and drops the hammer. The NCAA saw someone go around their flawed system, not on purpose, and because it does not benefit them, the NCAA squashes him.
Now the NCAA will argue that they have enacted new rules that shows that they are trying to take better care of their “student-athletes.” Things like unlimited meals and extra money to cover expenses are things they trumpet in the propaganda that they release. They said that they are taking care of the athletes and are doing the most that they have ever done. However, the benefits that the NCAA are giving “student-athletes” does not come close to the money that is made off of the young men and women playing the sports.
The NCAA made a record $996 million in revenues during the fiscal year of 2015. They are on the hook for potential settlements resulting from the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit, along with a one-time payment to their member schools. That puts the NCAA at $1.4 billion in expenses, but much of that money will come from reserves that the organization has stacked for times like these. The NCAA, the self-proclaimed non-profit organization, has been making a fortune off of “student-athletes”, but a deeper look shows that the colleges and universities are making money as well.
According to data from the USA Today and the US Department of Education, 24 schools made over $100 million off from college athletics. Schools like Michigan, Texas A&M, and LSU top the list of schools that are making nine-figures off of the blood, sweat, and tears of “student athletes,” while the athletes receive nothing but an extra Kit-Kat bar before lights out. Nick Saban continues to be the highest-paid state employee in the state of Alabama. Meanwhile, Saban’s 300-pound offensive lineman receives an extra ten bucks to eat at McDonald’s since that is all he could afford to eat.
I have debated the topic of college athletes receiving payment with people, and they all have the same argument, “they are going to college for free, they should not get anything else.” My answer to that archaic and short-sighted argument is this: the game has changed. Times have changed since ABC would show one, maybe two, college football games on a Saturday. Or when one Big East basketball game would be on television a week. Times have changed since games took place in campus sweat box gyms or in old rickety stadiums.
Billions of dollars are changing hands in college athletics in television rights fees and games that take place in 100,000 seat stadiums. All the while, “student-athletes” continue to be used every single year. From the five-star football recruit to the last woman on the field hockey team, these men and women are pawns in the NCAA’s game to make the most money that they could. And they do it without ever looking at the people responsible for making that money, the “student-athletes.”
Donald De La Haye is doing something that he enjoys and gets paid for it and for that, the NCAA kicked him out of the club. He dared to challenge the establishment. Because of De La Haye, more collegiate athletes will hopefully begin to look at the landscape of college sports and realize that they have power for change. De La Haye is an example of someone who would not just stay with the status quo and is willing to fight the NCAA for something he believes in. It is time for others to do the same.