Remember Donald De La Haye, the backup kicker who was kicked off the Central Florida team last year because he wouldn’t deactivate his YouTube channel?
Well, he sued the school, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated and is seeking to have his scholarship reinstated. UCF filed a motion to dismiss his claims. Yesterday, that motion was denied.
Senior district judge Anne Conway denied UCF’s request to dismiss De La Haye’s lawsuit almost a month after attorneys for both sides appeared in court. The court found that De La Haye has a plausible first amendment violation claim allowing the case to continue. The court agreed with UCF in that De La Haye’s fourteenth amendment right pertaining to due process was not violated and dismissed the claim.
“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,” said Goldwater Institute Director of National Litigation Jon Riches. “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.”
Don’t know where this one’s going yet, but seeing as we’re entering an era where 1A rights are being asserted to overcome all sorts of governmental actions, I wouldn’t be so quick to presume UCF prevails here. How that would impact enforcement of NCAA bylaw 12.4.4 remains to be seen.