Miami’s Final Four Run Shows The Power Of NIL

When you think Miami Hurricanes you usually think college football. You think national championships and great players and coaches. But since their last championship in 2001 the Canes football program has fallen on hard times, not coming anywhere close to winning another championship. While the once-dominant and menacing gridiron program has become virtually non-existent, Canes basketball has gone to heights never seen on the hardwood in Coral Gables, Florida.

Jim Larranga Ushered In A Culture Of National Success

The arrival of head coach Jim Larranaga in 2011 ushered in a new culture, and new way of life within the once dormant basketball program. And while it didn’t immediately lead to Elite Eights and Final Fours, the Canes did win the 2013 ACC Tournament title. That experience helped usher in a welcomed change and direction within the program. 

NIL Money Makes Miami Elite

Miami’s first trip to the Final Four, has been heavily aided by the power of the NIL, and mainly the $800K deal signed by guard Nijel Pack to transfer from Kansas State to the South Florida school. It sent shock waves through the sport, and even had coaches of other teams like “whoa” when it happened. 

One of those coaches was UConn’s Danny Hurley, who told reporters this when asked about it during his Final Four presser.

“NIL during last season was still like — I don’t want start a rumor,” Hurley said. “But then that hit you — like, that sent shock waves.”

Pack’s Deal Was Missing Piece For Hurricanes

Adding Pack came with a price, but it was a drop in the bucket for billionaire Miami businessman John Ruiz, who signed Pack to the large NIL deal. Pack’s services for two years at $400K per season. At the time of Pack’s deal reigning ACC Player of the Year, Isaiah Wong reportedly considered transferring after Ruiz refused to up his deal. Cooler heads prevailed, and Wong came back a couple days later stating that wasn’t true and he was happy with his deal and the team and couldn’t wait to run it back. 

While the deal for Pack was considered groundbreaking because there hadn’t been other deals that high broadcast as of that time. Backup Canes guard Harland Beverly says it being made public is why it was talked about and looked at the way it was.

Jordan Miller Channeled His Inner Christian Laettner

Miller, the former George Mason product, transferred into Miami in 2021 and immediately received an NIL deal with Ruiz and his LifeWallet brand. In fact the core of the Hurricanes team, the aforementioned Wong, Pack, Miller and big man Norchad Omier, are all NIL deal pieces of the Canes team, with the latter three all transferring in. 

Miller had the game of his life in Sunday’s Elite Eight win over Texas, going 7-for-7 from the floor, and 13 of 13 from the free throw line.  He became the first player since Christian Laettner in 1992 to be perfect from the field in a NCAA Tournament game. Miller’s Swiss army knife skill set is vital to a Canes team that’s usually undersized to its opponents. 

Head coach Jim Larannaga heaped praise on Miller in his postgame interview. 

“I’ve said it all season long, he’s the most underrated player in the country, because he’s good at everything.”

That he is, and without the power of the NIL it’s safe to say Miami wouldn’t have Miller, Pack, Omier and probably would’ve lost Wong at some point. But with those four leading the way, they’re just two wins from adding a basketball national championship banner to the five the football program has in Coral Gables. 

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