Cavinder Twins Sponsor Threatens Lawsuit Against NCAA Over NIL Ruling

Haley and Hanna Cavinder during a Miami basketball pregame.

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The NCAA could face legal repercussions due to a recent ruling on NIL. A prominent CEO is threatening to sue the association over their punishment against the University of Miami and basketball players Haley and Hanna Cavinder.

John Ruiz, the CEO of LifeWallet, spoke out on the situation in a phone interview this week. LifeWallet is a top sponsor of the Cavinder twins.

In late February, the NCAA hammered the women’s basketball program with sanctions due to the recruitment of the Cavinders, who previously played at Fresno State. The ruling against the Hurricanes centered around NIL violations.

University of Miami women’s basketball coach Katie Meier violated NCAA rules by facilitating impermissible contact between two prospects and a booster, the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions (COI) announced.

More specifically, the allegations focused on a dinner between the Cavinder twins and Miami mega booster John Ruiz.

The fallout from those level II sanctions resulted in probation and a three-game suspension for head coach Katie Meier, though the players did not miss action. Ruiz was also not forced to disassociate from the program.

The Cavinder twins responded to the punishment by asking the NCAA if they were “scared that female athletes have value.

Ruiz is also speaking out against the NCAA’s ruling, which was the first of its kind. He’s threatened to sue over the recent sanctions.

The premise of Ruiz’s argument is that he doesn’t consider himself a Miami booster. Instead, he sees himself as a business partner due to his company’s deals with athletes.

Here’s what he said in a phone interview with On3 Sports.

“The main gist of it is I’m not a booster. Therefore, the categorization of me as a booster is legally incorrect. There has already been an agreement in place. I think the university could petition them back to shorten the probation period.”

The NCAA believes that Ruiz falls into the category of booster due to his connection to the program. Here’s how a “booster” is defined in the rulebook.

“The NCAA defines a booster as ‘representatives of the institution’s athletic interests.’ That classification is earned by providing a donation in order to obtain season tickets, participating in an athletics program, making financial contributions to the school, providing employment for enrolled athletes, assisting in the recruitment of high school prospects or assisting in providing benefits to enrolled athletes.”

While Ruiz claims he’s not a booster, it may be a hard sell. His Twitter page is full of Miami news and media. He’s also been heavily involved in the recruitment of players, including the Cavinder twins and Jaden Rashada, who ultimately signed with Arizona State.

It will be interesting to see where this goes. Ruiz’s hope is to reduce the probationary period for the program.