Contrary to popular belief, NCAA doesn’t stand for National Collegiate Athletic Association.
It stands for No Compassion At All.
The body that rules intercollegiate sports and bleeds the revenue-producing laborers has struck again. Give the overlords credit for one thing: They’re remarkably consistent in their heartless handling of college athletes.
Donald De La Haye is just the latest example in a long line of young adults who ran afoul of the organization’s archaic rules. A kicker for Central Florida, De La Haye was ruled ineligible Monday because he refused to accept NCAA restrictions on his popular YouTube channel.
He created videos that depicted his life as student-athlete and brought him a small profit thanks to more than 95,000 subscribers. But the NCAA’s shorts bunch up when anyone else makes a dollar. De La Haye was told he couldn’t monetize videos that referenced his status as a player or showed his skills. Those videos would have to be moved to a non-monetized YouTube account if he wanted to maintain his eligibility.
“De La Haye chose not to accept the conditions of the waiver and has therefore been ruled ineligible to compete in NCAA-sanctioned competition,” the school said in a statement. “UCF Athletics wishes him the best in future endeavors.”
The NCAA thinks it deserves a medal for trying to work with De La Haye, granting a waiver to continue his enterprise minus athletic references. (It also required him to pay back the money previously earned, an amount that’s unclear but certainly close to meager.) In a tweet, the organization said the kicker “chose not to compete any longer” because he “did not want to separate his athletically-related videos from non-athletic ones he could monetize.”
Turns out that student-athletes can make all the money they want on YouTube, provided the videos aren’t based on athletics reputation, prestige or ability. The NCAA also wanted to make something else clear: “To clarify media misreporting,” NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn, “UCF declared Donald De La Haye ineligible, not the NCAA.”
Wow. That’s a gangster move right there. We know UCF axed the kicker to avoid being knee-capped with penalties from the bosses. The NCAA can feign innocence all it wants, but only a fool can’t connect these super-sized dots.
“What’s at the core of this is the fact that NCAA and the colleges want to monopolize every last commercial dollar,” National College Players Association president Ramogi Huma told the Associated Press. “They don’t want to have to compete with players over those commercial dollars.
“The very people making the decisions are the very people getting six and seven figures salaries because they are denying players like Donald equal rights under the law.”
It’s beyond me how some folks don’t see the unfairness. Students who receive scholarships for music, dance, drama or academics are free to earn as much income as possible. Why should athletic scholarships be any different? Why should recipients be forced to forgo opportunities available to every other student on campus?
NCAA bylaws on self-employment state “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.”
Meanwhile, the organization does all of the above. What a deal!
“They wanted me to give up my money that I made, which is crazy,” De La Haye said in a video he posted Monday night. “I worked hard for it and you just want me to throw my money away and take down my videos, which again, I worked so hard for and wasn’t comfortable doing. So I told them no.”
As a result, his scholarship was taken away and he’s out of school, unable to pay the $22,000 for tuition, room and board, books and fees. Instead of preparing for his junior year, the marketing major is monitoring a GoFundMe that had raised $7,315 as of Wednesday afternoon.
Here’s hoping De La Haye files a federal lawsuit like those brought by Ed O’Bannon and Chris Spielman. The NCAA needs to pay for its long history of abusing student-athletes’ rights. It once declared former Colorado football Jeremy Bloom ineligible because he was a world-class skier, and also threatened former Northwestern halfback Darnell Autry, a drama major, with loss of eligibility for accepting an unpaid movie role.
This isn’t a case of the longstanding argument over colleges paying or not paying athletes. This is about allowing them to use their own name and image just like the NCAA.
But that’s asking too much for an organization that’s both heartless and soulless.
— Brooklyn-born and Howard-educated, Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.