The University of Central Florida (UCF) kickoff specialist and YouTube star violating NCAA rules?

By Joseph M. Hanna

16 June 2017

The most popular football player on campus is usually not the kickoff specialist, but that might be the case at the University of Central Florida. UCF kicker Donald De La Haye YouTube channel has over 53,000 subscribers. Several of his videos have over 300,000 views. This large following has allowed De La Haye to receive profit from ads that run in conjunction with his videos. The problem is De La Haye is a student-athlete and NCAA bylaw 12.4.4 prohibits student-athletes from using their names, photograph, appearance or athletics reputation in promotion of a business.

In his 41 videos, De La Haye shows what it is like to be a student-athlete, discusses his career at UCF, shows footage of UCF’s indoor facility and UCF logos. De Le Haye claims he is not broadcasting the fact he is a football player, but admits you can tell from the videos he is a NCAA football player, even though he says that is not the message behind the videos. While De La Haye has not heard directly from the NCAA, he has heard from an UCF compliance officer. UCF will like him to stop profiting from the videos in order to maintain his amateur status under NCAA rules. UCF recently completed a probation period due to football and basketball recruiting violations in 2012, so the conservative approach is understandable.

The National College Players Association has come to the kicker’s defense. The NCPA points out that no other student on campus is subject to the restrictions or prohibited from being compensated for a work product. But the NCAA has not traditionally viewed these situations in the same light as the NCPA. In 2012, a University of Richmond’s basketball player was ruled ineligible for appearing as a model for activewear he designed. The clothing company started out as a school project and soon turned into a violation of bylaw 12.4.4. The student-athlete, Jonathan Benjamin, posted pictures on his company’s website of him wearing the gear. The Atlantic 10 conference ruled this violated the bylaws.

The Pac-12 has advanced a legislative proposal allowing student-athletes to be self-employed and profit off of a business venture unrelated to athletics, but so far that remains only a proposal.

De La Haye has not decided if he will stop producing the videos.



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About the Author

Joseph M. Hanna

Joseph M. Hanna

Joseph Hanna is a partner of Goldberg Segalla and concentrates his practice in commercial litigation with a focus on sports and entertainment law and retail, hospitality, and development litigation. Joe represents sports franchises, professional athletes, and movie studios with various issues related to licensing, contracts, and day-to-day management. He serves as Chair of Goldberg Segalla’s Sports and Entertainment Law Practice Group and editor of the firm’s Sports and Entertainment Law Insider blog. In addition, Joe is the Chair of Goldberg Segalla's Diversity Task Force. He possesses an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell.
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