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Miami Hurricanes booster blasts NCAA for NIL investigation

Matt Johnson
Miami Hurricanes
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When the NCAA announced student-athletes could be paid for use of their name, image and likeness, it was viewed as a monumental moment in college sports. With the Miami Hurricanes now under investigation for NIL deals, one Hurricanes’ booster is taking aim at the NCAA.

Sportico reported Friday that the NCAA is investigating high-profile NIL deals football players for Brigham Young University and the University of Miami received. The inquiry is meant to determine whether or not boosters are using NIL as a new pay-for-play mechanism, with the investigation looking into specific payments.

Dan Lambert, a Hurricanes’ booster and MMA and the creator of the MMA academy American Top Team, announced before the season that he would pay every Hurricanes’ player on scholarship $500 monthly payments. With the NCAA now investigating him and Miami, Lambert is firing back.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Lambart defended his NIL deal with the Miami Hurricanes and firmly believes everything being done fits within the guidelines. He also offered some pointed comments directed at the NCAA.

“[Expletive] the NCAA. I would love to sue those scumbags. I hired the pre-eminent attorney in the country on NIL [Darren Heitner] and he crossed every T, dotted every I and they still want to look into it. Maybe [the NCAA is] scared they’re losing their power. They’re all pieces of [expletive].”

Miami Hurricanes booster Dan Lambert on NCAA investigation into Name, Image, Likeness deals with student-athletes

Lambert partnered with Hurricanes’ players to promote his gym, following the NIL guidelines that permitted payments so players could financially benefit from the usage of their name, image and likeness. While it cost him $540,000 this season, he planned to double it for 2022 after the hiring of Mario Cristobal.

The plan to increase the monthly payments for Miami’s players came as a direct result of the Cristobal hiring. After years of the Hurricanes’ athletic department and university not prioritizing the football team, making the same level of financial commitment many other prominent schools do, Lambert viewed this as a new era for Miami football.

“Abso-[expletive]-lootly. Because of the commitment the school is making to give you a product on the field you can be excited about. People want to have something to be excited about. They want to be hopeful and they want to be excited. This does it on both levels. There are people putting in a lot of commitments that go far above anything we’re doing on an NIL. That’s going to make our job so much easier.”

Dan Lambert on whether or not Miami Hurricanes’ hiring of Mario Cristobal impacted new plans for NIL deals

Lambert firmly believes his deals with the Hurricanes’ football program, which he said received approval from the school’s compliance department and a NIL attorney, meet the standards of the NCAA rules.

The NCAA knew it would be opening a door for student-athletes to receive payments from boosters and companies as soon as NIL rules were implemented. If the Hurricanes or BYU is penalized for it, boosters and athletic departments across the country will likely have serious issues with the decision.