The saga of former UCF kicker Donald De La Haye gained a victorious chapter Tuesday when senior district judge Anne Conway denied UCF’s request to dismiss the former kicker’s lawsuit against the school.
De La Haye, as you’ll recall, was a reserve punter who became a martyr to the NCAA’s amateurism system when he was forced to choose between de-monetizing his modestly profitable YouTube channel or keeping his scholarship. De La Haye chose YouTube.
De La Haye is still producing content on YouTube (most recent episode: “Surprising My Girlfriend With Her DREAM Birthday Vacation ($10,000)”, which has racked up 97,000 views and counting) but he hasn’t given up the football dream. He sued the school for violating his first amendment rights in forcing him to choose between his scholarship and his vocation, and Conway’s ruling found that he has a plausible claim, allowing the case to continue. (Conway ruled on behalf of UCF that De La Haye’s 14th amendment rights were not violated.)
“Donald was a model athlete who, like nearly all college students, uses social media to connect with friends and followers and offer glimpses into his life. But rather than reward a student for using his talents, passion, and creativity to create content that tens of thousands of people enjoyed—just as Donald was doing as a UCF student—UCF chose to punish him,” Goldwater Institute Director of National Litigation Jon Riches told the Orlando Sentinel. “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.”
De La Haye is seeking to have his scholarship reinstated. The lawsuit will now move into the discovery phase.