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UM Alum at Forefront of Paying Student Athletes

John Ruiz is at the forefront of the name, image and likeness trend, often referred to as "NIL."

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The onetime taboo topic of paying student athletes is now above board, completely.

“We don’t do it as ‘pay for play,’ we do it as pay for work,” said University of Miami alum and big-time booster John Ruiz.

He’s at the forefront of the name, image and likeness trend, often referred to as "NIL." And it’s sweeping across U.S. college campuses. 

Ruiz says there’s tremendous value in paying lesser-known athletes, using a member of UM’s women’s golf team as an example.

“She works for us because she is super talented, she communicates well, she is a great face to the female side, the sports component, to LifeWallet,” said Ruiz.

Ruiz, a lawyer by trade, has about 115 athletes under contract.  

He’s paying out some $7M this year in compensation to those students.

They are being paid to promote his companies LifeWallet and Cigarette Racing boats.

“They are posting through social media, whenever we have events we promote the events with them, people want to meet them,” said Ruiz.

A few of his athletes recently appeared in a commercial for one of Ruiz’s businesses.

 “The commercials are a huge hit,” he said.

The better-known athletes are making serious bucks.

Nijel Pack, a standout basketball player on UM’s men’s basketball team, is earning $400,000 a year to promote Ruiz’s businesses.

The NCAA’s website has an entire section explaining the recent changes to the NIL rules, stating clearly that college athletes now have the opportunity to benefit from their name, image and likeness.

Ruiz recently met with NCAA officials on "The U’s" campus to discuss his NIL business dealings.

“They were extremely professional,” he said. “Extremely positive on what I was doing for society, so they complimented me.” 

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