May 4, 2023
On February 24, 2023, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) handed out its first Negotiated Resolution after it charged the University of Miami Women’s Basketball with a Level II violation for issues related to name, image, and likeness (NIL). Not only is this the first NIL infraction case, but its target is also the two highest NIL earners in women’s sports—twins Haley and Hanna Cavinder.
THIS RULING HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPORTANCE OF UNIVERSITIES MONITORING BOOSTER ACTIVITY
As we have previously written, institutions themselves may be held responsible if boosters or collectives violate NCAA rules. (See NIL Update: “Collectives” On The Rise Boasting Tax Exemptions).
The NCAA Committee on Infractions panel wrote:
“Ultimately, the prospects and their parents had dinner at the booster’s home. During the visit, the parties did not discuss NIL opportunities, but the booster promoted the school by speaking about his children’s experiences as student-athletes at Miami, and his admiration for the school and the surrounding community.”
That dinner, which took place at well-known Miami booster John Ruiz’s house, violated NCAA rules because boosters are not authorized to have in-person, off-campus contact with prospects. Boosters are also not allowed to pay for prospects’ meals.
The Committee found that the head women’s basketball coach’s involvement in connecting the Cavinder family and Ruiz resulted in impermissible recruiting contact and recruiting inducement. Further, the head coach did not communicate with compliance to clarify whether her actions would be consistent with NCAA rules.
THE NCAA’S STANCE IS TO NOT PENALIZE ATHLETES THEMSELVES FOR NIL INFRACTIONS
The Cavinder twins themselves were not sanctioned, however, the University of Miami and the women’s basketball team were. The Committee on Infractions approved:
- One year of probation.
- A $5,000 fine plus 1% of the women’s basketball budget.
- A 7% reduction in the number of official visits in women’s basketball during the 2022-23 academic year.
- A reduction of nine recruiting-person days in women’s basketball during the 2022-23 academic year.
- A three-week prohibition against recruiting communications by women’s basketball staff beginning with the open date of the transfer portal.
- A 10% suspension (three games total) for the head coach, served during the first three contests for the 2022-23 season.
“Boosters are involved with prospects and student-athletes in ways the NCAA membership has never seen or encountered. … In that way, addressing impermissible booster conduct is critical, and the disassociation penalty presents an effective penalty available to the Committee on Infractions,” the Committee said in the resolution.
INSIGHTS FOR GF CLIENTS
Every month there are new implications of NIL which GF Sports Advisors are tracking. Our team can help institutions monitor and take a proactive approach to NCAA compliance. Similarly, GF Sports Advisors can advise institutions and student-athletes on best practices in the NIL era.
Please contact a Gjording Fouser lawyer at 208.336.9777 if you would like any additional information about this topic or any other issues facing your company.