At least one student-athlete isn’t letting the NCAA take his passion from him without a fight.
University of Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye, who sent shockwaves through the college sports world last week when he announced he would soon have to decide between playing football and making videos for his popular YouTube channel, said Sunday he’ll leave that choice up to the NCAA and his school. The rising junior is refusing to back down from making advertising money off his “side job,” an activity a school compliance officer warned him violates college eligibility rules.
“At the end of the day, I’ve decided I’m going to continue making my videos. I’m gonna continue bringing love and positivity and joy and inspiration to all my viewers, all my followers, all my subscribers,” he said in the most recent video posted to his page, which now has over 66,000 subscribers, a 10,200 increase from last week. “I’m going to upload regularly to this channel. I’m not stopping that, I’m not demonetizing. I refuse to.
“So yeah, it’s out of my hands now. The decision is in the NCAA’s hands, whether they want to suspend me or whether they want to let me do me and keep running it up on the YouTube.”
De La Haye said the ultimatum kept him up at night and affected his appetite all week as he contemplated how to address it. A kickoff specialist on the field and a marketing major in the classroom, De La Haye said he could see himself pursuing either interest — whether that’s the NFL draft or a career in video production — after graduation.
Now, the NCAA could wind up narrowing those options against his will.
“I’m still waiting to hear from the NCAA, the people at compliance and all the guys up there,” De La Haye said. “Like I said, I feel like I’m in trial now, kind of. I haven’t done anything bad, I’ve just been chasing my dreams, being positive, being happy, spreading love, spreading joy, spreading entertainment.
“At the end of the day, you go to school to figure out what you want to do in life, to figure out how you can take your talents and what you’re good at to make money — and I believe I’ve found that. I love computers, I love cameras, I love to film, I love to edit, I love being creative.”
De La Haye believed he found the perfect medium to combine his skills and interests, all while earning money from advertisements on his videos to support his “struggling” family.
As he awaits word from the NCAA, De La Haye plans to continue doing the two things that make him happy.
“I believe in myself and I believe in what I’ve been doing and my passions and chasing my dreams,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m not stopping for anybody.”