NCAA: UCF Kicker De La Haye Can Promote Nike, Not Himself

UCF football kicker Donald De la Haye has a lively ‘vlog’ where he described his recent encounter with the UCF compliance office, which told him that he can no longer operate that vlog and receive money for it.

According to de la Haye, who has an obvious charismatic presence on camera, UCF compliance has told him that he “can’t make it obvious that” he “is a student-athlete,” because that means [he] is using his likeness and image to make money.”

This is the NCAA imposing two of its goofiest – and most disingenuous — ‘principles:

1) All players must be ‘Economic Virgins’; and

2) Players cannot be engaged in, or benefit from, any promotion in any way athletic-related.

This nonsense started 40 years ago, when Phil Knight and Sonny Vaccaro in 1978 began skulking around college campuses, paying-off coaches (with increasingly big checks), to force their players to wear apparel with the Nike swoosh on it.

Before that, players didn’t promote. When the Brits founded ‘amateurism’ in 1866, no crew members or cricket players promoted products. Commercial promotion was just not done by players – right up until Sonny Vaccaro began paying coaches in 1978.

In that vacuum, the NCAA and schools could have, in 1978, just as easily told Vacarro to go pay each player for wearing Nike. No revered old principle of amateurism prevented it. But the coach (and later, the school) wanted Nike’s big cash – so they ginned-up the two ‘principles’ above, which they thereafter pretended had been handed down by the ‘revered’ British amateurism gods, back in 1866.

And the NCAA boldly enacted, over time, regulations which even declared that display of a company logo is not promotion – the kind of edict which deserves Churchill’s famous retort: “I should hardly think it possible to state the opposite of the truth with more precision.”  (If the patent bad faith of that regulation is not immediately apparent, then consult Nike’s standard contract with the school these days, which provides that ‘display of the logo’ is the ‘essence of the transaction.”) And the NCAA passed other regulations which declared that no player can engage in, or benefit from, promotion.

However goofy and economically-unreal these ‘principles,’ they allow UCF and the NCAA to steal from De La Haye. They take the income he earns for performing apparel-promotion for a for-profit third-party multi-national corporation (Nike) – while simultaneously barring him from earning money for promoting himself.  All in the guise of an NCAA exaltation of ‘student-athlete’ Economic Virginity:  we all know how badly soiled one’s hands can get by handling money.  And the hands of UCF and the NCAA are very dirty.

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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