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Miami women’s basketball is in hot water over its recruitment of Haley and Hanna Cavinder. The Hurricanes agreed to penalties handed down by the NCAA on Friday afternoon.
Haley and Hanna, two of the biggest brands in college sports, have more than 4 million followers on their TikTok account, with more than 500,000 followers each on Instagram. They are each worth nearly $1 million (if not more) through the new rules surrounding Name, Image and Likeness.
NIL may or may not have been part of what got their current program in trouble. However, because this case was processed prior to Jan. 1, the NCAA panel could not presume that activities around NIL resulted in any violations.
It all stems from a meeting back in April.
The Cavinder twins transferred from Fresno State to Miami on April 21, 2022. Eight days prior, as part of their recruitment, the family dined at John Ruiz’s home.
Ruiz, an NIL sponsor for the Hurricanes, bankrolls a large number of athletes on multiple teams through his companies LifeWallet and Cigarette Racing. The former has set aside $10 million for NIL deals alone.
Ruiz even met with the NCAA about his involvement with Miami back in June.
Most recently, Ruiz was heavily involved in the Jaden Rashada saga.
To some extent, Ruiz’s wheeling and dealing in South Florida was the basis for the NCAA’s recent crackdown on booster involvement in Name, Image and Likeness. It came to a head on Friday.
Miami was hit with sanctions over the Cavinders.
Although the NCAA did not reference Haley or Hanna by name in its report, it referenced a booster’s tweet with two prospective athletes on April 13. That, of course, was Ruiz and the Cavinders.
According to the resolution, the NCAA began its investigation in May in part because of the tweet.
Miami head coach Katie Meier was responsible for Haley and Hanna’s meeting with Ruiz. She set it up— which is a Level II violation.
Meier served a self-imposed three-game suspension at the beginning of the season in anticipation of the NCAA’s ruling. The two parties agreed that it will suffice and she will not have to miss any more time.
In addition to the suspension, Hurricanes women’s basketball must pay a $5,000 fine, in addition to a fine worth 1% of the program’s budget. It will also serve a year of probation, which includes minor recruiting and official visit reductions.
The Cavinders are not subject to any sanctions.
Although the NCAA and Miami came to an agreement, the former made it clear that it wanted tougher penalties. It was “troubled” by “the absence of a disassociation of the involved booster.”
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 (committee on infractions).— NCAA, via the Feb. 2023 University of Miami (FL) Public Negotiated Resolution
Despite its wishes, it was hard for the NCAA to order Miami to dissociate itself from Ruiz based on a meeting that took place before the rules were changed. It will, though, “strongly consider disassociation penalties in future cases involving NIL-adjacent conduct.”
FROM THE NCAA:
The head coach met the booster at a university event for administrators, staff, donors and potential donors. Although the head coach did not personally know the booster, she was aware that he was a prominent businessman and involved in name, image and likeness activities with student-athletes at the school.
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. Regardless, the booster informed the head coach that he was “here to help” and wanted women’s basketball to be “huge” at Miami.
The university, head coach and enforcement staff agreed that the head coach asked an assistant coach to contact the prospects and let them know that the booster was a legitimate businessperson, and the prospects agreed to meet with him. The head coach then notified the booster that the prospects were willing to meet with him during the visit, and the booster worked with the prospects’ agent to arrange a formal meeting. Ultimately, the prospects and their parents had dinner at the booster’s home.
During the visit, the parties did not discuss NIL opportunities, but the booster promoted the school by speaking about his children’s experiences as student-athletes at Miami, and his admiration for the school and the surrounding community.
Katie Meier responded in a statement from Miami on Friday.
Not long after the NCAA released its resolution, Meier issued a statement of her own.
For over 30 years, I have led my programs with integrity and have been a collaborative partner with the NCAA. Collegiate athletics is in transformation, and any inadvertent mistake I made was prior to a full understanding of implemented guardrails and the clarification issued by the NCAA in May. We all look forward to a time when there is a national solution to help our student-athletes, coaches and institutions.— Katie Meier, in a statement via the University of Miami
Miami also had its coach’s back.
The sanctions that we ultimately agreed to, to bring this to a close, are not (commensurate) with the violation or its intent. Coach Meier is an outstanding coach, role model, teacher … and we stand fully behind her, her program and our ongoing departmental compliance efforts.— University of Miami, in a statement
Meier is the Hurricanes’ all-time leader in women’s basketball wins with 338 point. Haley is the team’s leading scorer through 28 games with nearly 13 points per game and a shooting clip over 40% from beyond the arc. Hanna averages just under four points per game while averaging 17 minutes.