Miami Women's Basketball on Probation in NCAA's First NIL-Related Sanctions

Tabatha Wethal Headshot
Miami Hurricanes

A name, image, likeness-related violation at the University of Miami has placed the women's basketball program on probation for one year. 

The University of Miami and the NCAA said women’s basketball coaches inadvertently helped arrange contact between a booster and two players, which is not permitted, as reported by the Associated Press on Friday.

The incident with the Hurricanes' is the first in which the NCAA is sanctioning a team related to an NIL infraction, the AP reported. 

In addition to the year-long probation, Miami agreed to various other minor sanctions, such as a small fine — $5,000, plus 1 percent of the women’s basketball budget, which the school does not release as a private institution — and a slight reduction in what’s allowed in recruiting.

The NCAA investigated the actions of wealthy alumnus John Ruiz, who has signed several Miami athletes to NIL deals. Among them are women’s basketball players Haley and Hanna Cavinder, who transferred to Miami after meeting with Ruiz — though the Cavinders told the NCAA the meeting had nothing to do with their decision to play for the Hurricanes, the AP reported. 

The NCAA and Miami negotiated the resolution to the violation, but the AP reported that the NCAA wanted the Hurricanes to agree to more sanctions than what were ultimately handed down — saying it was "troubled" by "the absence of a disassociation of the involved booster." The NCAA said the violation was related to Miami coach Katie Meier helping facilitate a meeting between the Cavinders and Ruiz, unaware that he was a booster.

“Boosters are involved with prospects and student-athletes in ways the NCAA membership has never seen or encountered,” the NCAA said, as reported by the AP. “In that way, addressing impermissible booster conduct is critical, and the disassociation penalty presents an effective penalty available to the (committee on infractions).”

Meier has already served a three-game suspension to start the season in anticipation of the NCAA’s ruling, so she won't have to miss any additional games.

The NCAA never named Ruiz in its ruling Friday, but referenced an April 13 tweet posted by a booster that included a photo of him and two recruits. On that date, Ruiz posted a photo of himself with the Cavinder twins after a dinner at his home. 

“These girls decided where to go, no one else did it for them,” Ruiz tweeted Friday.

The Cavinders, who have an enormous social media following and several NIL deals, signed their letter of intent about a week after the dinner. They are not subject to any sanctions. Both are in their first season with the Hurricanes after transferring from Fresno State.

“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 represents a new day,” the NCAA said.

Meier said Friday in a statement distributed by the university that she has led programs “with integrity” and has worked collaboratively 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,” Meier said, as reported by the AP.

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