Everyone has encountered that one person who will do something stupid, then attempt to blame it on everyone around them.
Well, that’s the NCAA.
News broke on Monday afternoon that UCF kicker Donald De La Haye is no longer eligible to play for the team due to his refusal to demonetize his YouTube channel. UCF sent a waiver request to the NCAA in early July, hoping to allow De La Haye to continue monetizing his channel. The waiver, according to an NCAA statement, said he could continue to make money on YouTube “as long as it was not based on his athletics reputation, prestige or ability.” Nothing about that agreement really solves a thing.
The fact that De La Haye couldn’t profit off his own ability, ability that he has worked tirelessly to perfect, is a joke. The waiver really should’ve said “De La Haye can keep making money as long as he isn’t himself.” He was given an ultimatum, and he chose to follow his passion. As a result, he no longer has college football eligibility or a scholarship.
The situation as a whole is frustrating. But when it was all said and done, the NCAA couldn’t even own up to its own stubbornness. Stacey Osburn, the NCAA’s director of public and media relations, took to Twitter on Monday afternoon. Her big statement on the whole thing? Well, have a look:
To clarify media misreporting, UCF declared Donald De La Haye ineligible, not the NCAA.
— Stacey Osburn (@NCAAStacey) July 31, 2017
That seems like a pretty valuable lesson to learn: when outrage comes your way, point fingers. Sure, UCF may have declared De La Haye ineligible. What Osburn failed to mention, however, is that the school had its hands tied. If UCF hadn’t ruled him ineligible and he played this season, the program would’ve left itself vulnerable to potential sanctions, one of which could be the forfeiting of any games he appeared in. The NCAA just doesn’t want to shoulder that blame. Instead, it wants to act like the compliance staff was given a real choice to make.
This situation had carried on throughout the offseason, so when it came to the waiver, the NCAA tried to pass it off as a compromise.
“I don’t feel like there was any compromising really happening,” De La Haye said in his most recent video, made in response to the news. “If you don’t benefit [the NCAA], then they don’t want it,” he went on to say.
Make no mistake. This is no fault of De La Haye’s, nor is it the fault of UCF. Even if you choose to be in the “rules are rules” camp, these are still the NCAA’s laughable rules. There’s no perfect way to govern college sports. Everyone knows that. But this is where the line is drawn? This?
Thirty-one Baylor football players have been accused of 52 rapes over a four-year period. The investigation is ongoing, but will the program receive the “death penalty” as it probably should? That’s doubtful. So, I ask again, NCAA: this is where you draw the line? On an entrepreneurial kicker whose goal is to entertain and inspire others while making some advertisement money along the way? What an interesting way to promote the well-being of your student-athletes.
Be better, NCAA.
To his credit, De La Haye is taking all of this in stride. He made a stand for his passion, which is something to applaud. In his latest video, he was understandably disappointed. But he knows all he can do is keep his head up.
“God closes some doors, so that some other doors may open,” he said in the video. “I feel like a lot more doors are going to open for me.”
There is no doubt that doors will open for him. It’s just a shame that those doors won’t be at Spectrum Stadium this fall.