Just a few days before the transfer portal closes on May 1, there’s yet another example of how some players and agents appear to be using NIL as a form of pay-for-play.
Miami men’s basketball player Isaiah Wong, who was part of the Canes’ Elite Eight run this year, is reportedly threatening to leave the team if he doesn’t get more NIL compensation.
Wong declared for the NBA draft but maintained his eligibility. But “if Isaiah and his family don’t feel that the NIL number meets their expectations they will be entering the transfer portal tomorrow,” Wong’s NIL agent, Adam Papas, told ESPN.
“He has seen what incoming Miami Hurricane basketball players are getting in NIL and would like his NIL to reflect that he was a team leader of an Elite Eight team,” Papas said.
The response didn’t come from Miami’s athletic department, as the school told ESPN it doesn’t directly negotiate deals with athletes. In fact, doing so would be a violation of Florida’s NIL law.
Instead, it came from local billionaire John Ruiz, who said that he has an existing NIL contract with Wong — and that he doesn’t renegotiate.
Through his companies Cigarette Racing and LifeWallet, Ruiz is involved in 111 NIL deals for Miami athletes, according to The Miami Herald. For example, he announced an NIL deal with incoming Miami men’s player Nijel Pack that included a car and a $800,000 paycheck.
Ruiz also met with former Fresno State basketball players Haley and Hanna Cavinder before they announced they would transfer to Miami, per The Miami Herald. The twins, however, told Front Office Sports at the time that NIL compensation was not a factor in their decision.
How did we get here? In June, the NCAA announced a toothless policy on NIL that included few specific rules other than that NIL deals shouldn’t be used as recruiting inducements or forms of pay-for-play.
Those rules are clearly being broken, but the governing body has little, if any, legal power to try to enforce them. It’s also unclear how state laws will be enforced.
Now, the longtime market that’s existed to pay players has simply found a new avenue in NIL.