NCAA looking to crack down on NIL booster in Miami

Isaiah Wong (r.)
Photo: Getty Images

The following is a story about supply, demand, and how the NCAA is a bunch of haters.

A few months ago, John Ruiz — attorney and billionaire booster for the University of Miami — was in the news because he refused to “negotiate” with Isaiah Wong — a member of the school’s basketball team — who might or might not have been trying to get a new NIL deal from Ruiz’s company, as Wong had outplayed his deal and watched as a new teammate was transferring into the program with a better deal than he had.

Because of this, people — some of whom claim to believe that college athletes deserve a bigger piece of the pie — blew a gasket when there were rumors that the most consistent player on a team (a back-to-back member of the All-ACC Team) that made it to the Elite Eight wanted to “restructure his NIL deal for more money” in a capitalistic society. Long story short, things were said and written, Wong was made to look like a bad person, people who once championed NIL quickly became upset with it, and in the end, Wong decided to stick around Coral Gables and “play out his deal” as Ruiz said he’d try to help him get others.

Well, earlier this week, the saga took another turn when the NCAA showed up on Miami’s campus to “conduct interviews” as they spoke with Ruiz.

“I’m extremely comfortable with what we are doing. I have nothing to hide,” Ruiz told Sports Illustrated. “It went super well. The NCAA is trying to wrap their hands around this sudden change of environment. They’re trying to figure out how the landscape is working.

“A lot of NCAA bylaws are hard to reconcile with the ability and right to enter into NIL deals,” he continued. “I think that the NCAA is starting to get a handle on the fact that it’s not capable of navigating within the [state] NIL laws and their own bylaws. There is an internal conflict.

“I felt the people from the NCAA were extremely pleasant. They are tasked with the job of making sure they gather enough information and create a functioning standard for everybody. There has to be better regulation.”

According to SI, at least 115 athletes have signed NIL deals with Ruiz’s at schools like North Carolina and FIU along with Miami, and the payroll is around $7 million. With that many players and those kinds of checks being cut, the non-profit that brings in over a billion dollars in revenue sent some people to Miami to “ask some questions” about “what’s going on.”

If you’ve made it this far and are smart, then you’ve realized why I called the NCAA a bunch of haters. For decades, we watched as the NCAA, coaches, schools, and conferences claimed that there wasn’t enough money to pay the players. And when the evidence proved that there was enough money, those same people then claimed that it couldn’t be done because there wasn’t a fair way to do it. So when NIL started becoming a thing in which governors and states jumped into the conversation, the NCAA still fought against it instead of coming up with some type of plan to address the inevitable.

They. Did. Nothing.

And now, as we approach the anniversary of NIL, the NCAA wants to “investigate” the one person that’s giving players money above the table all because this thing has completely gotten out of hand because the NCAA allowed it to get to this point. John Ruiz filled a void with supply and demand because the NCAA, these schools, coaches, and conferences are still pocketing billions as NIL allows players to make money without getting a cut of the cash they generate, but yet, the NCAA is still trying to dictate how much players can make off their name, image, and likeness after saying it was OK for players to make money off their name, image, and likeness.

The NCAA undervalued student-athletes and didn’t think they could generate this much money for themselves, but instead of being happy for the kids and playing it cool because people are less focused on how much more they’re still missing out on, the NCAA is trying to jam up the Robin Hood of collegiate sports because they still believe that these kids shouldn’t get anything.

This is a hater’s mentality.