As the NCAA slogan goes — which was engineered by the association but worded as if it’s a statement from the student-athletes — “Most of us go pro in something other than sports.”
For those who do want to go professional in another field, though, don’t you dare do it on the NCAA’s time.
On Saturday, University of Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye produced a video for his popular YouTube channel, which could be his last. He has amassed more than 54,000 followers making mostly comic videos — “Kickers Be Like” features an everyday life of driving, refrigerator-opening and button-pushing done with feet — that have helped raise money, he said, for his “struggling” family at home.
But according to his latest video, he recently had a sitdown in which he was given an ultimatum: Quit football or quit YouTube, because using his status as a college football player to make money violates the NCAA’s rules.
“Some people upstairs aren’t happy with my videos, and they feel like I’m violating NCAA rules,” he said, not clarifying with whom he met. “I guess I can’t make any videos that make it obvious that I’m a student-athlete, because that makes it seem like I’m using my likeness and my image to make money and all this, which I’m really not.”
De La Haye, a rising junior from Port St. Lucie, Fla., is the kickoff specialist for Central Florida. The marketing major thought he found a way to make a few dollars while setting himself up for his future, as he plays a sport in which he earns a scholarship and $0. The NCAA, which rakes in about $1 billion annually and has a president who made more than $1.9 million in 2015, according to USA Today, apparently sees a problem in De La Haye’s plan.
“I’ve put in the work, and I’m not allowed to get any benefits from that work,” he said. “My family’s struggling at home — there’s barely any food and tons of bills piling up. My mom’s struggling, calling me crying. And I’m not allowed to help. I thought I had found a way.”
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So had Dylan and Dakota Gonzalez. But with one year of college basketball eligibility remaining after transferring from Kansas to UNLV, the twins are bypassing an NCAA farewell season to focus on their music.
The social-media stars and singers released their debut EP on June 2, no longer having to worry about whether they’re violating NCAA bylaws by doing what they love. They do love basketball, they recently told Slam, but they were forced to choose. Despite the fact they combined to average 23.1 points per game last season, only one career track would be their future.
“At the end of the day, the only thing [the NCAA] would allow us to do was sing the national anthem at a game and make music in our home,” Dylan Gonzalez said. “It just became this fight as to why we wouldn’t do anything outside of basketball without all of these ticky-tack regulations coming into play. It just became so stressful. At the end of the day, Dakota and I hope that other women are given the freedom to pursue things outside of their sport. Unless you’re in the system, you really don’t understand that this is a job. Playing a collegiate sport is a job that you don’t get paid for like a job. If you’re trying to build a foundation for yourself in another avenue, it’s nearly impossible because you don’t have the time to do it, nor are you allowed to do it.”
Most of them go pro in something other than sports. And as soon as they can.