Ryan Trahan, a Texas A&M cross country athlete and budding entrepreneur, is seeking an NCAA ruling that will allow him to stay eligible while continuing to promote his ecologically friendly bottle company via a YouTube account that has grown to more than 14,000 subscribers.
"These are the two biggest things in my life," Trahan told The Dallas Morning News. "They're asking me to throw one out the window, essentially."
Trahan and the A&M athletic department are working with the NCAA to come up with a solution.
Student-athletes can own and run their own business without violating NCAA rules if it's not based on their athletics reputation or ability.— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) September 21, 2017
Trahan, a 17-year-old freshman from Eagle Lake, Texas, said he has been told to refrain from social media references to either his company, Neptune Bottle, or his collegiate athletic pursuits.
"I don't understand how I'm allowed to have a job working at McDonald's or something while being a student-athlete," Trahan said in a recent video post, "but I can't have a company that I'm passionate about, that I've been working on for over a year now and keep my identity. Like, how is that right in any way?"
Trahan's status for this weekend's home meet is in question, according to the Morning News report, which cited a team spokesperson. Trahan ran unaffiliated in the Aggies' first cross country meet this season but competed with the team in its second meet, at Georgia.
Trahan's plight isn't entirely unprecedented.
Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye was granted a waiver request but turned it down after the NCAA ruled him ineligible over advertising revenue generated from a YouTube channel.
"The waiver, which was granted, stated De La Haye could maintain his eligibility and continue to monetize videos that did not reference his status as a student-athlete or depict his football skill or ability," Central Florida said in a statement, according to the Orlando Sentinel.