March 6, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Why did the NCAA go after Miami for NIL violations?

Isabel and Amanda chat about NIL, Cavinder twins and boosters

It’s time for another episode of the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast. Host Isabel Rodrigues caught up with Amanda Christovich, sports business reporter at Front Office Sports, to talk about the wild west of the new landscape. So what exactly happened to Miami? What is a booster and why do they matter?

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Amanda Christovich talks about what happened to Miami and the NIL violation:

“Yeah, so basically, the story starts a little over a year ago, or I guess a little under a year ago, when the Cavinder twins transferred from Fresno State to Miami. So when they were considering transferring, they obviously visited Miami. And there’s a booster at Miami named John Ruiz. He’s a very successful businessman. And he has jumped, you know, feet first into NIL. He has been funding deals for tons of high-profile Miami athletes; he’s been extremely generous with them. He’s also made a lot of headlines and waves on Twitter for deals that could be perceived as quote-unquote, against NCAA rules because they could be looked at even though their endorsement deals to promote his companies. They could be seen as like, quote-unquote, sort of like pay-for-play.

So what happened specifically with the Cavinder twins was that they went to Miami to visit and had coach Katie Meier ran into John Ruiz at an event and she spoke to him. And she sort of facilitated like kinda a meeting between journalists and the Cavinder twins, even though she didn’t even know what had actually happened until after the fact, the twins went to his house for dinner; he provided them dinner, obviously, according to the NCAA, they didn’t even talk about NIL at this dinner. This was literally in the NCAA report. But the NCAA came out last week saying that the fact that the head coach of the women’s basketball team helped facilitate a meeting between a booster and two perspective athletes before they had agreed to go to the school was a recruiting violation or some sort of NIL related violation.”

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Amanda Christovich talks about why the NCAA took so long to come up with the punishments:

“Yeah, well, the first answer is that the committee on infractions moves at a snail’s pace. The second reason is because they were probably exploring their legal options, right? What, Miami is telling us is that they found sort of a loophole, which was this quote-unquote, negotiated resolution. Miami, on the NCAA, the NCAA didn’t just hand down these penalties. And Miami was like, okay, they got in a room together. It was basically a plea bargain. From a legal perspective, what that means is Miami has co-signed this decision, so Miami can’t take them to court.

But the parties that technically were cosigning John Ruiz and the Cavinder twins, they didn’t get punished directly. I’m not a lawyer, but there isn’t much that they could do to take the NCAA to court because the NCAA didn’t punish them. Well, this is going to potentially be what the NCAA does going forward to avoid lawsuits.”

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