Donald De La Haye had an athletic scholarship to the University of Central Florida until his YouTube channel “Deestroying” got very popular. De La Haye had over 90,000 subscribers and was earning between $2,000 and $31,000 a month from his YouTube channel when UCF and the National Collegiate Athletic Association intervened. NCAA rules restrict student-athletes from earning money based on their status as collegiate athletes.
The University of Central Florida tried to negotiate with the NCAA since De La Haye sent the money he made to his family in Costa Rica. The NCAA allowed De La Haye to continue to monetize his account but required that he stop referencing his status as a student-athlete and remove any videos where he did so—or he could choose to no longer monetize his account.
De La Haye decided to reject both options because he believed that the NCAA was violating his First Amendment rights to free speech. In response, De La Haye was declared ineligible to play in any NCAA-sanctioned competition, effectively ending his college football career.
De La Haye took UCF to court, on the grounds that school officials—including its president, athletic director, two university VPs, and 13 members of the university’s board of trustees—had violated his rights to free speech and due process. In November 2018, the Orlando Sentinel reported that De La Haye’s lawsuit had been “amicably resolved” out of court and that De La Haye’s lawyers would pay their own legal feels.
Although corporate media, including CNBC, for example, briefly covered this story when it first broke in 2017, few outlets followed the story when De La Hayes filed his lawsuit.
Source: Alex Kirshner, “He lost a scholarship because of YouTube ads, so he’s taking NCAA rules to court.” SBNation, July 14, 2018, https://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2018/7/13/17565672/donald-de-la-haye-youtube-ncaa-deestroying..
Student Researcher: Abigail Mooney (Indian River State College)
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)