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The Miami women’s basketball program was placed on one year of probation and hit with a series of penalties for a recruiting violation in relation to name, image and likeness rules, the first such violation by a school.
The NCAA said Hurricanes head coach Katie Meier ran afoul of the rules regarding contact between prospective players and boosters:
“The head coach met the booster at a university event for administrators, staff, donors and potential donors. … At the event, the booster and his family approached the coach to talk about the prospects’ upcoming visit to the university. The head coach later called the booster to learn more about him and his work, unaware that the booster had already been in touch with the prospects’ agent, until the booster informed the coach that the prospects’ agent had initially declined a meeting during their upcoming visit to campus.”
Per ESPN’s Dan Murphy, Haley and Hanna Cavinder were the players in question, and they met with John Ruiz.
Ruiz has helped Miami dive headfirst into the NIL era. In December, On3’s Jeremy Crabtree wrote how “nobody generated more national headlines and impacted the world of name, image and likeness more.”
Speaking with Murphy, Ruiz brushed aside the NCAA’s ruling.
“It has little to no substance and no effect on me at all,” he said. “It’s mostly focused on the coach, and that’s unfortunate. But it doesn’t affect me or my business. If it did, I’d be suing the NCAA and it wouldn’t be a good day for them.”
Per Sports Illustrated‘s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger, at the center of the NCAA’s inquiry was a dinner Ruiz hosted for members of the Cavinder family.
The Cavinder twins announced in March 2022 they were leaving Fresno State and entering the transfer portal. On April 13, Ruiz shared a photo of himself with the Cavinder family:
John H. Ruiz, CEO LifeWallet and Attorney at Law @JohnHRuiz
Wishing the Cavinder twins all the best in their quest to find their next home to play basketball. Amazing young ladies as well as mom and dad. @CavinderHaley @CavinderHanna @johnnyruiz4 @alex7ruiz @cristinaeruiz pic.twitter.com/yr0Cz0XsLk
That preceded an announcement by the Cavinders they were joining the Hurricanes by eight days.
The NCAA said Meier asked an assistant to reach out to the Cavinders to reassure them that Ruiz “was a legitimate businessperson.” According to the NCAA, she also let Ruiz know they wanted to meet with him.
In general, some thought the situation was another example of the NCAA putting its rules ahead of common sense.
Kevin Clark @bykevinclark
If Miami women’s hoops wanted the NCAA to look the other way then they should have offered the Cavinder Twins $13.5 million to play, then never paid them in a huge public debacle. Instead John Ruiz bought them dinner and tweeted about it. Gotta learn the rules.
Darren Rovell @darrenrovell
The NCAA is back to their no bagel & cream cheese policy, as the first NIL infraction goes to Miami surrounding an impermissible meal & contact.
The penalties amount to a slap on the wrist as well.
Meier received a three-game suspension, which she has already served, while a $5,000 fine and minor reductions in the number of official visits and recruiting days do little to hamper Miami.
Dan Murphy @DanMurphyESPN
NCAA enforcement has to take what it can get, but this isn’t the “make an example of someone” they had hoped for. The case involves an existing business (not one built to give $ to players) and two athletes with maybe more real NIL market value than any others in the NCAA.
In its announcement, the NCAA made sure to issue a warning of sorts to other schools.
“Finally, the panel noted in its decision that because this decision is a negotiated resolution, the penalties do not have precedential value, and the committee will strongly consider disassociation penalties in future cases involving NIL-adjacent conduct,” it said.
But Friday’s ruling is unlikely to act as a deterrent given everything involved.