Miami Hurricanes booster John Ruiz confident NIL deals within rules

Jan 22, 2022; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2022; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Miami Hurricanes booster John Ruiz has become a polarizing figure nationally. Ruiz has led the effort from Miami supporters to help Hurricanes’ athletes secure Name, Image and Likeness deals. Ruiz’s companies Cigarette Racing and Life Wallet have signed up 111 Miami Hurricanes athletes in recent months.

An $800K two-year deal with Kansas State transfer Nijel Pack and the report surrounding the initial fallout that rising fourth-year junior guard Isaiah Wong was upset by it created discussion nationally about NIL deals. Wong reportedly threatened to transfer without his NIL deal being re-negotiatied.

The comments initially came from Wong’s agent to ESPN. Wong tweeted the next day that any comments in the future will come directly from him. Both deals were with Life Wallet and Ruiz. Ruiz has been steadfast that all the deals he and his company have negotiated have been within NCAA rules.

The NCAA came out with a report earlier this week that they will start examining deals and discussions boosters have with athletes. Boosters are not permitted to have discussions with athletes or recruits about potential deals. CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd spoke to Ruiz about his involvement with Miami and NIL.

"“To me, it’s business as usual…I was navigating directly with the rules…The term booster is irrelevant in my view because, if you have a legitimate business, it doesn’t matter if you are a booster or not. The deal is an arms-length transaction.I never saw Nijel Pack play or knew what his abilities were when I entered into the contract. The reason I entered into the contract was because he was sort of the top-rated portal player by all accounts…(Regarding Wong) I would never do that…No. 1, that could be viewed as pay-for-play. On top of that, I don’t renegotiate with anybody.”"

Dodd also mentioned  Miami Hurricanes women’s basketball players “Hanna and Haley Cavinder transferred from Fresno State to Miami seeking further off-court riches.” The Cavinders mentioned their desire to transfer from Fresno State to Miami involved wanting a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.

Athletes being allowed to receive compensation for their own Name, Image and Likeness went into effect on July 1, 2021. Less than a year old, NIL deals will continue to evolve. The NCAA has been criticized for being more reactionary than proactive regarding rules revolving around NIL deals.

The ambiguity revolving around NIL has created criticism that athletes are becoming pay for play. Dodd reported last week that the NCAA plans to “crackdown” on boosters who are funding NIL deals. All of the athletes Ruiz signed are required to endorse his products and/or make appearances on behalf of his companies.

Next. Miami booster John Ruiz will help Isaiah Wong with NIL deals. dark

The NCAA could face lawsuits in the 28 states (including Florida) that have NIL laws. Battles in the courts could last years. Ruiz and other boosters that are following the laws of their states are facing rules being reapplied after the deals are legally agreed to with athletes. Ruiz always consults the Miami compliance department.