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Financial scandal rocks LifeWallet as federal agencies investigate

Photo credit: Getty Images

One of the most influential supporters of the University of Miami’s name, image and likeness endeavors is facing a series of issues that could potentially impact the athletic programs.

Referred to as Miami’s “NIL King” by ESPN, John Ruiz, a Miami businessman, is currently experiencing financial troubles as his company faces federal investigations.

RELATED: John Ruiz on LifeWallet’s NIL strategy: ‘We have the most transparent platform in the entire country’

Ruiz has played a significant role in injecting substantial funds into the school’s athletic programs through NIL deals associated with his company, LifeWallet. His presence and the financial incentives provided by LifeWallet have been instrumental in attracting talented athletes to the university, with Ruiz leading these efforts.

He was seen celebrating with the men’s basketball team as they advanced to the Final Four. Many University of Miami athletes have also signed NIL deals with LifeWallet, with one notable example being Nijel Pack’s lucrative $800,000 agreement that included a car when he transferred from Kansas State in 2022.

However, concerning reports have surfaced, indicating that LifeWallet’s value has declined, and the company is now under the scrutiny of federal civil and criminal investigations, as reported by the Miami Herald.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida are spearheading the investigations, with the FBI and IRS having already interviewed witnesses, as reported by the Miami Herald.

According to the report, the federal agencies are scrutinizing how Ruiz “represented to investors about its value and other possible securities violations.”

In addition to the ongoing investigations, LifeWallet’s value has suffered a significant decline since its initial public offering. Previously valued at $32 billion, the stock prices have plummeted to less than $0.25 per share.

Ruiz is grappling with further troubles, as multiple lawsuits have been filed against the company over allegations of owing millions of dollars to the businesses they acquired.

RELATED: Miami recruits Malik Bryant, Samson Okunlola partner with LifeWallet, John Ruiz

These developments could potentially compel Miami’s athletic department to seek alternative revenue streams, as Ruiz’s financial support had been instrumental. Athletic director Dan Radakovich acknowledged the significance of the NIL money that Ruiz and LifeWallet brought in but assured that they were actively exploring other sources of revenue to supplement the funding.

Although the situation would have been highly challenging for the university to endure last year, The Athletic now suggests they are in a better position to handle the repercussions, and NIL deals should remain unaffected.

Earlier this year, Ruiz was also responsible for getting Miami into trouble when the women’s basketball team faced sanctions over an impermissible meal provided to Haley and Hanna Cavinder before they officially committed as transfers.