Skip to main content

NCAA sanctions Miami basketball for violations in the recruitment of Cavinder twins

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos02/24/23


The NCAA announced Friday a ruling regarding an infraction related to impermissible contact between a booster and prospects who later enrolled at Miami.

The Cavinder Twins, Hanna and Haley, have become two of the most prominent names in the NIL era. But during their transfer recruitment after they left Fresno State, the twins had an impermissible meal with Miami booster John Ruiz. The news was first reported by Sports Illustrated‘s Ross Dellenger.

Ruiz also violated NCAA rules by contacting the twins. Ruiz was not disassociated from the program, though. As one of the penalties, Miami coach Katie Meier sat out the first three games of the 2022-23 season.

The twins were not sanctioned.

“At the event, the booster and his family approached the coach to talk about the prospects’ upcoming visit to the university,” the NCAA said in a statement Friday morning. “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 NCAA views the meal as a recruiting inducement, as boosters are prohibited from providing benefits and making contact throughout the recruitment process.

The decision contains the full list of penalties as approved by the Committee on Infractions, including:

  • One year of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine plus 1% of the women’s basketball budget.
  • A 7% reduction in the number of official visits in women’s basketball during the 2022-23 academic year.
  • A reduction of nine recruiting-person days in women’s basketball during the 2022-23 academic year.
  • A three-week prohibition against recruiting communications by women’s basketball staff beginning with the open date of the Transfer Portal (from March 13 through April 2, 2023).
  • A 10% suspension (three games total) for the head coach, which was served during the first three contests for the 2022-23 season.

John Ruiz responds

When former Kansas State star Nijel Pack transferred to Miami last spring, Ruiz announced the two parties had agreed on a two-year deal valued at $800,000 plus a car. Ruiz also has been active with the Miami football team. He allocated $10 million to spend on compensating student-athletes in Year 1 of the NIL era and plans to grow his investment.

His moves previously caught the attention of the NCAA. Ruiz and his LifeWallet staff met with NCAA enforcement in June to discuss the number of NIL deals the company has struck with Miami athletes. The NCAA did not accuse the now-publicly traded company of wrongdoing, he said.

Now the NCAA has come down on UM for a recruiting inducement caused by Ruiz.

“The NCAA’s findings are nothing but an attempt to say they did something,” Ruiz said in a text message to On3. “To single out two excellent young ladies that decided with their family that UM was the best school for them before even discussing any NIL is sad. I also feel bad for their coach, she is a great person and amazing for the women’s basketball team. I was never contacted about these decisions by UM or the NCAA. However, if it would have affected our agreements in any way the NCAA would have their hands full.

“An entity entering into an NIL deal is protected by the constitution. How can you negotiate with anyone if you can’t talk with them. Not only is the in violation of the constitution, it’s also retarded. … To pick two stellar young ladies who may have the highest NIL value in the country is pretty silly and shows incompetence. I see that the NCAA will not last long. I suspect they will have substantial litigation heading their way.”

What does this all mean?

In the ever-changing landscape of college athletics, boosters have taken a prominent role since the inception of NIL. But the NCAA’s move Friday is more of a warning shot than the start of a rollout of sanctions.

The NCAA said the ruling will not be a precedent for future NIL-related cases because this case was processed before the organization lowered its violation standard on Jan. 1.

“We’re not telling [boosters] we’re going to slam you, but don’t take this as precedent that it will never happen. … Boosters can’t help recruit, and they certainly can’t give inducements,” Committee on Infractions Chair Dave Roberts told Sports Illustrated.

The move from the NCAA comes after months of coaches and administrators begging for enforcement. Conference commissioners have focused on asking Capitol Hill for assistance.

The NCAA is showing signs of aggression, though. The enforcement staff has been built back up from its low during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also hired an associate director of enforcement focusing on NIL cases.