For most of his life, Donald De La Haye has found the most joy in two places: on the field and in front of a camera. And for most of his life, those two passions have lived in perfect harmony. But now he may be forced to make a choice. On Friday, in a meeting with a UCF compliance officer, De La Haye learned that continuing to earn money off his popular YouTube channel could cost him his athletic scholarship and his place as a kicker on UCF's football team. According to NCAA bylaw 12.4.4, a student-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." And more than half of De La Haye's "Deestroying" channel videos touch on the topics of kicking or campus life. "It was surprising," De La Haye says. "I feel like I'm owned by the NCAA. They can use my name and my likeness to make money off of me, but I can't. I'm not out here selling autographs. I'm not boasting that I'm a UCF player. Any other YouTuber with the same amount of subscribers would make the same amount of money as me. It's a senseless rule, in my opinion, especially in the age of social media." A native of Costa Rica, De La Haye traces his passion for creating videos to his father, with whom he shares a name. De La Haye Sr. was always armed with a video camera at every major family function, including all of his son's soccer games. And when the younger De La Haye turned 13, he decided to start making videos himself, at first recording and editing Call of Duty gameplay. In middle school, he and his best friends, Troy and Malik, would make sketches about life at school and in their neighborhoods. When he arrived at UCF in 2015, he decided he wanted to create a library of his videos and watched as his number of subscribers—now more than 55,000—skyrocketed. When he realized he could earn extra income for his family back home through his channel, he started applying lessons he'd learn at school as a marketing major. Even after his marketing classes end each semester, he keeps his favorite textbooks to reference regularly.
YouTube Star UCF Kicker Opens Up: 'I Feel Like I'm Owned by the NCAA'
Bleacher Report | Jun 14