Ruiz, a University of Miami alum and founder of MSP Recovery and LifeWallet, has been on the hot seat over the past month due to his ties in the alleged illegal recruitment of Haley and Hanna Cavinder. He’s also arguably his own NIL collective at the U, having signed on close to, if not more than, 100 athletes to LifeWallet as brand ambassadors.
Ruiz plays a significant role in NIL at Miami, and it can be attributed to their most recent successes, having vaulted Miami men’s basketball from middle of the pack ACC team to consecutive years reaching the Elite Eight, with the team’s latest iteration vying for a shot at the National Championship this upcoming weekend, their furthest run in program history.
On the women’s side, the transfers of the aforementioned Cavinder twins has been huge for head coach Katie Meier, as the Hurricanes women’s team has jumped from the bottom half to an Elite Eight appearance in just one season.
This week, as Miami prepares for its Final Four game against UConn, Ruiz sat down with various ESPN programs including Outside The Lines to discuss Miami, LifeWallet, and his NIL strategy.
“I think what people need to recognize is that there are three components to each one of these athletes: What is it that [the athletes] get by way of education, how do they like the coaches and the school and the atmosphere that they’re in, and then the third component is what happens off the court or off the field,” Ruiz said.
“If you looked at the Miami men’s basketball team and the four individuals that we have NIL deals with, Norchad Omier, Jordan Miller, Nijel Pack and Isaiah Wong, not only do they work together on the court and during practice, courses and classes, but then when they come to LifeWallet, they’re working together also. I think these are extraordinary kids, they work hard and I think it’s disingenuous to take away from the kids named because you know they have a NIL deal.”
When asked about LifeWallet’s success, Ruiz gave a strong statement concerning the company’s openness in the space.
“What I do think is that we have the most transparent platform in the entire country, and that goes a long way. I think from a brand perspective and return on investment for our business which goes together with the name, image and likeness of the players, we’ve seen an incredible boom since the team has made the Final Four. To see all of our social platforms explode and the recognition across the country is huge,” Ruiz said.
He continued: “When Nijel Pack was signed to his agreement, I made a strategic decision that we were going to announce what the amount of what that deal was going to be. That was a strategic move for both Pack and LifeWallet, and what you’re seeing is that almost every single article that talks about the Miami Hurricanes has Nigel Pack and other players and LifeWallet. If that isn’t what marketing is about, then I think that perhaps I’m missing the beat on what it’s supposed to be.”
Ruiz said that while some brand deals are a contractual agreement with no true work involved, contracts with his companies come with work attached, calling it a quid pro quo system, or both sides working hand-in-hand to help each other out.
“These kids are constantly working for LifeWallet and there’s interaction and they understand that we’re supportive and they have to be supportive and that’s where a true relationship comes into play,” Ruiz said. “This is not just a situation where people are getting into a contractual relationship and not doing anything. They’re actually having to work.”
As the conversation closed, Outside the Lines’ John Barr mentioned the recruitment of the Cavinders and the ongoing investigation. After vowing that he’d sue the NCAA, Ruiz confirmed his legal team is filing suit, and doubled down on his side of the story that led to the investigation.
“First of all, there was no dinner that the Cavinder twins had that night. That was a misinterpretation factually. After the Cavinder twins were already under contract, they came to my house for dinner with their lawyer and some of their other agents and guidance as well as myself and my team. Factually, the NCAA got it wrong,” Ruiz said.
"You have a right to enter into agreements with people and that has to be respected."— Outside the Lines (@OTLonESPN) March 29, 2023
Miami businessman and NIL sponsor @johnhruiz addresses his planned lawsuit against the NCAA after sanctions were issued following a meeting with @CavinderHaley and @CavinderHanna. pic.twitter.com/LcjrmG1Zds
“Bigger picture, and this is one of the reasons why at the federal level there is so much push for regulation, you can’t live in an environment where you’re calling someone a booster and at the same time that person who is an alleged booster is trying to enter into contracts with student-athletes.”
Ruiz closed by saying this:
“There is a constitution not only in the different states but in the United States, you have a right to enter into agreements with people and that has to be respected.”
Like him or not, Ruiz has created an empire in the NIL space, and has utilized his company’s platform to benefit both Miami athletes and his own bottom line.
In a statement released by MSP Recovery, LLC on Thursday, LifeWallet’s parent company, plans to announce the company’s fourth quarter and full 2022 earnings on March 31 has been delayed, with the company filing Form 12b-25 Notification of Late Filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).