Billionaire John Ruiz supports UM athletes
Billionaire John Ruiz becomes the Hurricanes’ savior, a well-meaning millionaire with endless cash and a propensity to spend millions on UM players and transfer targets. John Ruiz has become the most important non-UM person in Miami Hurricanes athletics by signing over 100 active players to marketing arrangements for two of his firms, LifeWallet and Cigarette Racing. Ruiz had been flying under the national radar until he tweeted last Saturday that Kansas State transfer and star guard Nijel Pack had “officially committed to UM as a basketball player.”
The biggest LifeWallet deal to far, $800,000 over two years, with a car. Congratulations!!!” Following a meeting with Ruiz, both Haley and Hanna Cavinder, social media stars with over five million followers, announced they are transferring from Fresno State to UM to continue their basketball careers. In exchange for promoting Ruiz’s businesses, UCLA football transfers Mitchell Agude and Caleb Johnson would enhance the Hurricanes’ front seven on the field while driving luxury vehicles off it
As a result, Arkansas State basketball star Norchad Omier and Maryland defensive tackle Darrell Jackson have announced their move to UM and signed deals with Ruiz. There’s a high possibility most or all of those athletes would have committed to UM without Ruiz’s money, albeit no way to tell for sure. Pack’s NIL agent, for example, indicated his client was committing to UM. Jackson told Canesport that Ruiz’s offer “helps,
but the coaches made this decision.” John Ruiz, who is looking into building a football stadium for UM, has already spent over $5 million on UM athletes. On Monday, 61 Canes players agreed to advertise LifeWallet (a health tech startup), and seven others agreed to promote Cigarette Racing (a firm that builds custom high-performance powerboats). On Tuesday, Omer and Jackson agreed.
There are 48 more deals featuring Hurricane athletes. So 111… and counting. And Ruiz is a generous giver, rewarding everyone from the new star edge rusher (Agude) to the long snapper (Clay James). How much extra money does Ruiz have this year for Hurricanes student-athletes? “We started the year with a budget of around $10 million, but we’re not stuck,” he said. Ruiz argues the transactions are good business, creating visibility for his enterprises that would otherwise be impossible.
“We’re receiving a great return for Nijel Pack right now,” he stated Monday. [Social media] impressions have virtually reached five million. This is a great return on investment.” Professor Ruiz wants to make it clear that he is obeying all NCAA and Florida laws regarding how college players can profit from their name, image, and likeness. “I will never do anything that breaks a rule,” he stated.
“The kids and the school suffer if I break NCAA rules. I have to be extra careful. I’m always cautious. We have 30 lawyers. We help UM with contracts and work with their compliance department.” So, how is the procedure going? How many portal players does he get to target from UM football and basketball? Does he contact athletes via the portal? Ruiz clarified his actions and inactions.
UM never calls him to encourage him to propose NIL deals to specific recruits or players in the portal. Ruiz said he and his family, which includes two UM graduates and a daughter, closely follow recruiting and portal news on all social media channels, and they prepare internally. The university has not contacted him, and he does not expect one, but he knows they are grateful. They are grateful. I ran into [athletic director] Dan Radakovich. I purposely keep a distance from the coaches, even though I know them all well.”
“John is a terrific supporter and a brilliant businessman, and his desire to engage with young people to promote his product launch is unique,” a source in the administration said. Of the football, men’s, and women’s basketball transfers, Ruiz said he only spoke to two: the Cavinder twins. Then I met their parents. “We talked for a while. They are a great family. We didn’t discuss money much. I decided to make a podcast for them.” Ruiz said the Cavinder twins liked it.
Their deal with Ruiz was not a big influence on their decision. “There was just a vibe and a sensation when we got on campus,” Haley Cavinder said. There was something about Coach Katie [Meier] and her leadership style that drew us in, and we knew we had to return after Miami. Ruiz said he spoke with five-star defensive end Shemar Stewart before he chose Texas A&M over UM on February’s National Signing Day.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Stewart ends up playing for the Hurricanes,” said Mo Marquez, a Miami Gardens Monsignor Pace High assistant coach who helped Stewart recruit. Before Pack chose UM, Ruiz stated he informed Pack and his agent of his plan to offer him a NIL agreement. He said Pack’s NIL representative initiated the talks, and he didn’t speak with Pack before the deal closed.
The agreement was so expensive ($800,000 plus a car) because Pack was one of the portal’s two best gamers. Pack signed with UM on Friday but didn’t announce it until Saturday, minutes before Ruiz did. The pack was an exception to the 109 players who do not want their contracts published. “I believed it was good for him since it increased his NIL value,” Ruiz added. “The John Ruiz offer wasn’t the deciding factor,” said Pack’s NIL agent Austin Walton, who added that the Hurricanes “did a tremendous job recruiting Nijel.” Jim Larranaga and [assistant coach Bill] Courtney were fantastic. Great job.
Working with the Ruiz family was a delight and the LifeWallet agreement reaffirmed our views about Miami and their respect for him. UM prioritized him, and he fit right in. With point guard Charlie Moore out of college, there was a need. Before choosing Miami over FSU, Texas Tech, and Georgetown, Ruiz spoke with Omier’s agent. “They have a tremendous coaching staff,” he remarked of UM. It was my best fit. Their style, league, and exposure.” Before Johnson and Agude choose UM, Ruiz said he had no direct communication with them.
During the recruiting process, Ruiz said both players’ NIL agents contacted him, asking if he would sign them to NIL deals that included luxury car use. In interviews, neither player acknowledged the NIL deals as a key motivation in transferring to UM. Canesport: “Miami people are great.” They have great vigor in practice. [Charlie, linebackers] Strong is a legend, so having him as a position coach is important. And I know what Mitchell will bring down there.”
Agude cited UM’s coaches’ respect for him as a big factor in joining. “Just meeting [Ruiz] you can tell he cares about Miami,” Agude told The Athletic. He shouldn’t be doing this. But it’s all from his heart. He enjoys helping everyone. His house is absurd. It’s a resort. He asked me what I needed and my mum told him I needed a car, so I was dispatched to the showroom.
He took care of it after I stated I liked it.” Ruiz has signed five UM football transfers: Henry Parrish, Frank Ladson, Agude, Johnson, and Maryland’s Jackson. Only three of Ruiz’s 111 completed or current deals with UM athletes include free vehicle use: Agude, Johnson, and Pack. (Drew Rosenhaus and Malki Kawa arranged automobile agreements for four other Hurricanes football players.)
Among UM’s portal targets, Ruiz says he doesn’t call most NIL agents. “Agents approached me,” he said. “The agents know us already. Most of the time now, I get called after the kid has already opted to attend UM. I will give a fair deal to everybody visiting Miami.” Recruits in the Class of
2023 and 2024 have been warned about the NIL if they enroll at UM. ▪ He claims it’s not pay-for-play, but pay-for-work, and that each of the 111 UM players with contracts must devote significant time to promoting his businesses. “We film here almost every Friday,” Ruiz remarked. “School comes first, then team, but they have to come here and film.”
Is it fun for him to help UM recruit guys who will aid the teams? “Sure,” he said. a Hurricanes fan I root for the team.” “Education” is important to him, as is “knowing better how to run enterprises… and network with others.” It’s priceless.” What’s ahead for Ruiz is always a mystery. Pre-empted the Omier and Jackson announcements this week by constructing a by-the-book NIL Platform. “And it’ll just get better. The big news this week.”
Before the new NIL age of collegiate sports, he could not have imagined garnering such brand awareness for his companies. Ruiz says everyone now knows LifeWallet, Cigarette, and Nijel. Everyone is wondering how LifeWallet and Cigarette came up with this platform and how we have made more progress than everyone else in the country.