Donald De La Haye is a Victim… of His Own Ignorance

Let’s skip all the old parts. Donald De La Haye decided he wanted to have it both ways and be a scholarship Division I football player as well as a successful YouTuber. The NCAA informed him that it wasn’t that simple, so he gave up his eligibility and his scholarship. Where does that leave us?

With Donald posting a video today giving the full story of exactly how things went down. I’ll comment after the video.

 

“These people, they just don’t want to see me winning.”

So he says that he started his YouTube channel as a means of having fun and relieving stress, and eventually (about three months ago) he was notified by YouTube that he had reached the threshold to be approved for monetization. Essentially, his videos had begun averaging greater than 10,000 views, and that made him eligible for the chance to monetize his YouTube videos.

There’s probably a separate discussion to be had about how a serious decision (doing something that causes a Division I scholarship athlete to be earning money from his athlete status outside of his scholarship) has been reduced to the click of a button.

It’s easy to overlook “maybe I should check with my academic advisor, my compliance officer or even my coaches before I do something that will cause me to start generating revenue” when you’re sitting there in the moment as a twentysomething young man presented with a choice that appears as simple as “click button, get money.” But that’s a separate discussion.

De La Haye then mentions the actual incident that set everything off. He noticed an Instagram viral event – Sunny Co. promising free bathing suits in exchange for Instagram follows – and decided that he would do the exact same thing.

Except in his case, your reward for subscribing to his YouTube channel and following him on Instagram was to be entered for a chance to win some of his UCF gear that he had accumulated. Again, he was planning to give away his football outfits in exchange for boosting his social media presence.

This is not Terrell Pryor trading autographs for tattoos, but also it is. This is where I revert back to my earlier comments about not disagreeing with a rule versus following it for the time being so you don’t get caught with your ass flapping in the breeze.

Donald talks about being called to the compliance office because the big spike in followers that he got eventually wound up getting their attention and a cruise of his social media caused them to find out not just the size of his followership, but also that his YouTube account was monetized.

It’s not that they don’t want to see you win, it’s that they want you to win in ways that don’t get them in trouble.

“I’m about to have it all.”

“I was going in there defending my channel like this was some O.J. Simpson trial or something.”

We’re going to go ahead and blow right past how incredibly fucking thick headed and stupid this statement is.

Compliance asked him for a bunch of information after pointing out that he should have come to them first, and he actually admits that he initially lied about which videos he had made money on and how much. That’s another bad move, because he came clean by the end of the meeting, so he looks a little less good now.

His next action after that meeting is to post the video we all know: the “YouTube or football” video that caused him to blow up and get interviews by every news outlet looking for a great story. The next day, to the surprise of… well, I was going to say no one, but apparently Donald, he was called to the football offices by head coach Scott Frost.

This meeting was Donald versus the coaching staff, and Frost tore him a new one for all of the negative publicity that was coming UCF’s way as a result of De La Haye monetizing his videos, as well as his “me versus the NCAA” video that he posted without thinking.

Word has it that he and Frost weren’t on great terms to begin with, but De La Haye is focused strictly on being disappointed that his coaches are unsupportive of him in his time of need, ignorant of having created that need by his actions to date.

He wants to crack jokes about how all of his phone calls and meetings with UCF officials had them bragging about what they were hoping to accomplish, which is him speaking through the anger of “UCF accomplishing something landmark” not also being “UCF getting Donald what he wanted.”

You weren’t about to have it all, Donald, and for you to think you were going to have your cake and eat it too is just more evidence of your apparent poor understanding of how the world works. You can’t expect the NCAA to just say “ah well, fuck it, you can keep the money and do your thing. our bad.”

“I’m not sure I can trust you.”

Then we get our next important moment. The compliance office asked him to stop posting videos to his channel while his case was ongoing, and he told them no. He was under the assumption that if he stopped posting videos, his YouTube channel and the revenue from it would die and he would be penniless on the streets when they took away his eligibility.

This is horribly short-sighted on Donald’s part. First of all, it’s not like they’re asking you to stop posting content for forever, just for a few weeks. Secondly, it’s not like there’s no other possible way in this world for you to earn a living if your scholarship goes away.

Third, if you do lose your scholarship and eligibility, your channel is probably going to blow up anyway (see: he has gone from 30,000 to 156,000 subscribers since May), so what’re a few weeks without revenue? Not only that, his blatant disregard for authority could well have contributed to the lack of compromise down the road.

He then says that when UCF told him they were going to file a waiver on his behalf that would serve as some sort of compromise between changing nothing and changing everything, “I felt they basically told me I was going to be able to do what I want freely.” If that’s what you heard then you flat-out weren’t listening.

Coach Frost then met with him again and said that he wasn’t sure he could trust him anymore as a player on his team because “you’ve basically flipped me off by your actions” (continuing to post content when you were asked not to do so), and Donald sees this as unreasonable, which pretty flatly defies logic.

His next compliance meeting reveals the waiver the NCAA agreed to, which states that he would agree to not post any further videos to his account that has anything to do with football and that any previous videos of this type would need to be taken down and the money earned from them donated to charity.

Clearly, Donald isn’t having this, because he earned that money and feels it is rightfully his, despite all of the barbed wire he’s hung around his own neck to this point. To his credit, he offers the compromise of continuing to do what he does and keep the money he’s earned to date, and simply from this day forth demonetize any individual videos that don’t meet those guidelines.

The NCAA flatly declined that offer. While I do think that their waiver was a bit of an overreach, it could also be argued that he should have been impressed that they agreed to any sort of waiver at all.

I personally would have granted Donald’s idea, but the NCAA essentially said that even if the football videos were demonetized, the traffic they generated would still be indirectly earning him revenue by impacting the subscriber base and viewership of all of his videos, monetized or not. I also wouldn’t be shocked if they took his deliberate disregard for authority as an affront that burned through whatever good will he had left.

Well then.

He takes the time to repeatedly point out how many millions the NCAA and UCF make off him versus the meager amount this was generating for him (supposedly about $4,000 in three months), and how there are so many athletes getting off with small fines/suspensions for sexual assault and marijuana compared to him getting shut down “for doing positive things.

This isn’t about you doing positive or negative things, nor is it about the amount of dollars you earned (by the way $4,000 in three months is pretty damn good). This is about you doing something that was in violation of the existing (crappy) NCAA rules that could have been avoided if you simply told your compliance office you were doing it before you went through with it.

You then chose to respond with a big middle finger to UCF and the NCAA at several turns, all so that you could keep earning about $13,000 a year from YouTube instead of having college paid for through the end of your degree.

Don’t worry, though, he’s already managed to get more than 500 people to donate a cumulative total of almost $11,000 to his GoFundMe page, in addition to whatever he is now earning from a YouTube channel that is still monetized and has now tripled its subscriber base.

I’m sure that he’ll learn really important lessons from this like “hey, remember the time I did absolutely nothing wrong and the NCAA screwed me over? Good thing I got a collective of complete strangers to donate money to me because they hate the NCAA and didn’t bother to learn the whole story.”

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