Dinner For Two? | Cavinder Twins’ Recruitment Leads To The First NIL Sanctions After They Met Billionaire Booster

Popular women’s collegiate basketball players Haley and Hanna Cavinder, also known as the Cavinder twins, are now the first to be involved in sanctions from the NCAA over NIL. The TikTok stars’ recruitment to the University of Miami became entangled with a NIL-related deal connected to a famous U of M booster.

On Friday, the NCAA decided that Katie Meier, Hurricanes women’s basketball coach, met with the twins and high-profile booster John Ruiz, who fed the Cavinders a meal in April 2022 that was not permitted.

“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 its Friday morning statement. “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 issue is that they were in the transfer portal, leaving Fresno State, and the meetup was deemed inappropriate and a direct violation. The ruling came down after a four-month investigation.

The NIL Smackdown

“As a result of the violation, Coach Meier was suspended for the first three regular season games this season,” the University of Miami announced in a statement. “The Department of Athletics will be placed on one year of probation, the women’s basketball program will serve restrictions, and the institution will pay financial penalties.”

Cavinder Twins. (Photo: Megan Briggs/Getty)

Billionaire John H. Ruiz is the Founder and CEO of MSP Recovery, a data analytics and technology company that recently became publicly traded — the second-largest SPAC transaction in the U.S., with a value of $32.6 billion. Also an attorney, Ruiz is credited with innovating and designing the business and IT platforms at MSP Recovery, which the nation’s largest health care organizations rely upon to maximize their recoveries, per his bio.

Boosters are prohibited from associating with or giving benefits or inducements, including meals, to prospects. Ruiz broke that rule when the billionaire allegedly dined with the twins. The NCAA became aware of the infraction when Ruiz posted a photo of himself on Twitter with the Cavinder family — posted and boosted and now busted.

Ruiz has denied that the dinner ever happened.

The Women’s NIL Factor

Ruiz has been a very prominent college sports benefactor, paying millions in NIL deals to over 100 athletes, most attending the University of Miami. Ruiz inked a NIL deal with the twins and has two of the highest NIL valuations of female athletes. They trail gymnastics stars Livvy Dunne, Suni Lee, and UConn basketball player Paige Bueckers.

In July 2021, the twins launched their partnership with Boost Mobile through Icon Source and received a digital billboard announcing it in Times Square. With 4 million TikTok followers and a massive following on other social media platforms, the twins have had a lucrative tenure in college basketball.

However, the 22-year-olds impressed the world with their skills as players for the Fresno State women’s basketball team from freshman to junior year. Haley was selected to the All-Mountain West team and set the NCAA record for free-throw percentage in a season. She also led the team in rebounds, assists, and points, with 19.8 per game, while Hanna was second in all categories and averaged 14.5 a game.

“When NIL did pass, it surprised a lot of people that Hanna and I and other female athletes were leading the way,” Haley told The New York Post last June. “I think it shows that female athletes have as much power as male athletes, and NIL has been the driving force.”

Back to top