The NCAA makes a lot of dumb decisions, so it might be hard to remember each specific one. However, you might remember the curious case of Donald De La Haye, the University of Central Florida kicker who was deemed ineligible last July by his school because of conditions set by the NCAA.
As the story went, the NCAA was not a fan of De La Haye’s YouTube videos, because the site monetizes videos even if you don’t and there’s nothing the NCAA hates more than someone else making money of its unpaid athletes. So, they offered De La Haye a waiver to remain eligible that required a few conditions, chief among them that he post his videos to a non-monetized account and not make any video related to his status as a football player. De La Haye said no, and UCF was forced to declare him ineligible based on the NCAA’s authority.
Our own Matt Yoder decried the decision as “one of the most egregious examples of the NCAA’s tyrannical anti-student policies that do way more harm than good.”
Now, De La Haye is fighting back and he’s got the legal backing to do it. Per Reason.com, a federal court ruled that De La Haye can sue UCF on First Amendment grounds.
“We hope that today’s decision denying UCF’s attempt to dismiss this case will be a step toward protecting Donald’s rights and ensuring all college student-athletes’ free speech rights are protected,” says Jon Riches of the Goldwater Institute, which is representing De La Hoye.
Today, the FL federal judge denied @UCF_Football dismissal motion against our @TPPF & @GoldwaterInst client @Deestroying. Big win for our client in the court finding us stating a valid claim that his #FirstAmendment rights were violated by @UCF. Our case moves on to the merits pic.twitter.com/Lnklz7ONlQ
— Rob Henneke (@robhenneke) July 10, 2018
Robert Henneke, general counsel for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which is also involved in the lawsuit, said: “students like Donald don’t check their constitutional rights at the gates to a public university simply because they are athletically gifted.”
UCF had attempted to get the lawsuit thrown out but it will now proceed as De La Haye attempts to prove that his First Amendment rights were harmed by the university and NCAA. His football career may be done but the sport needs people like De La Haye to push back and chip away against the tyrannical decision-making by the people in charge so that future student-athletes don’t face the same fate.