NCAA looking into NIL deals at University of Miami

John Ruiz’s name has become somewhat of a name in the college sports world in recent months thanks to the name, image and likeness deals his companies have made to college athletes – primarily at the University of Miami.

And now the NCAA is starting to ask questions.

Ruiz confirmed to Sports Illustrated and 3 He spoke with NCAA application staff last week. According to SI, NCAA employees “spent at least two days in Miami snooping on NIL deals” while interviewing Ruiz and others.

Ruiz, a Hurricane supporter who has a net worth of billions, has been very open on social media about the many NIL deals he made with college athletes through his various business ventures. Most notably, he posted it on Twitter about 2-year deal of $800,000 with Nijel Packwho moved from Kansas State to Miami for men’s basketball.

When speaking with SI, Ruiz described his contact with the NCAA as an “interview,” not an “investigation.” Ruiz said the NCAA is trying to gain a better understanding of the current NIL environment.

“It’s hard to reconcile a lot of NCAA regulations with the ability and the right to enter into nothing deals.” Ruiz said. “I think the NCAA is starting to deal with the fact that they are unable to navigate within [state] None laws and bylaws. There is an inner conflict. I felt that the people from the NCAA were very happy. They are charged with the task of making sure that they gather enough information and create a job standard for everyone. There has to be better regulation.”

Ruiz told SI that he has signed with 115 athletes (most of whom attend Miami) and has a gross salary schedule of “about $7 million”.

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 4: A general view of the Miami Hurricanes helmet during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Alabama Crimson Tide on September 4, 2021 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 4: A general view of the Miami Hurricanes helmet during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Alabama Crimson Tide on September 4, 2021 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NCAA issued new zero ‘guidance’ in May

Last month, the NCAA released new guidelines for schools “regarding the intersection between recruiting activities, name, image, and similarity environment.” This directive specifically addressed “groups” created by support groups in schools across the country that are designed to pool funds together and attract top recruits.

These groups are included in the NCAA’s definition of reinforcement because they are intended to abide by their longstanding rules against “pay-to-play”. Ruiz is the first reinforcer to publicly admit that it has met with an NCAA application since this updated guidance was introduced.

“Augmented guidance is defined as any third-party entity that promotes an athletics program and assists in recruiting or assisting in providing benefits to recruits, enrolled student athletes, or members of their families,” the NCAA said. “The definition may include ‘groups’ that are set up to direct name, image, and likeness deals to prospective student-athletes or enrolled student-athletes who may be considering transfer. NCAA recruiting rules prohibit the recruitment and/or provision of benefits to prospective student-athletes.”

At the time, the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors directed enforcement personnel to consider NIL deals that “manifestly conflict” with the NCAA’s interim policy established on July 1, 2021.

This policy suspended NCAA rules that prevent college athletes from earning income by using their NIL. The NCAA stuck to these rules as long as possible until states across the country began enacting laws — laws superseding NCAA rules — to allow college athletes to pursue NIL deals.

It’s been nearly a year since then and there have been hundreds of deals made by college athletes, including some that were said to be as profitable as six or seven figures. While these are outliers, the NCAA attempts to sniff out “the most severe violations of the rules for enlistment or pay-for-performance athletics.”

Whether the NCAA can actually enforce the rules regarding NIL deals is a matter of debate given the NCAA’s unanimous loss 9-0 in the Supreme Court (in the Alston case) and the fact that individual state laws supersede NCAA rules.