The NCAA issued its first ruling in an NIL infractions case against the University of Miami over a dinner shared by two women’s basketball players and a booster.
Twins Hanna and Haley Cavinder, who double up as TikTok stars, met with Hurricanes booster John Ruiz, the CEO of LifeWallet and co-owner of Cigarette Racing, in his Miami home April 13, 2022.
They transferred to the school from Fresno State eight days later.
The meeting between the Cavinders and Ruiz was described as “impermissible contact” because boosters are not allowed to provide potential athletes any improper benefits. The chef-prepared dinner was considered a recruiting “inducement.”
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Miami head coach Katie Meier was found to have set up the dinner, which violates “head coach responsibility.” She served a suspension the first three games of this season, and the school was ordered to pay a fine of $5,000 and another payment of 1% of the program’s budget.
“The investigation did not develop any facts directly linking activities around name, image and likeness to the prospects’ recruitment to or decision to enroll at the University of Miami,” the COI [Committee on Infractions] wrote in its report. “During its review, however, the panel was troubled by the limited nature and severity of institutional penalties agreed upon by Miami and the enforcement staff — namely, the absence of a disassociation of the involved booster. …
“Although the parties asserted that a disassociation penalty would be inappropriate based on an impermissible meal and an impermissible contact, today’s new NIL-related environment presents a new day. Boosters are involved with prospects and student-athletes in ways the NCAA membership has never seen or encountered. In that way, addressing impermissible booster conduct is critical, and the disassociation penalty presents an effective penalty available to the COI.”
“So the NCAA allows schools to inform students about NIL opportunities and says UM can’t? These girls decided where to go, no one else did it for them,” Ruiz said in a tweet.
“Also the Cavinder Twins are the face of NIL. We are in the US, the constitution safeguards the ability to contract. After digging for months and finding nothing they had to create something. If it affected our companies I would go after the NCAA. NCAA will eventually disappear!”
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Ruiz has spent $10 million in NIL money, with the twins earning seven figures. Their joint TikTok account has 4 million followers. They have partnerships with Champs and Victoria’s Secret.
Haley leads the Hurricanes in scoring with 12.8 points per game, while Hanna is averaging 3.8 points.