Sports

Cristobal’s hire expected to put more money in UM players’ pockets

Dan Lambert — the Miami Hurricanes booster and founder of a mixed martial arts team and gym — said the momentum from Mario Cristobal’s hiring has left him encouraged that he (in combination with other local businessmen) will be able to double the monthly stipend offered to Hurricanes players through the NCAA’s new Image and Likeness rules.

Lambert made his comments three days before Sportico reported Friday that the NCAA is exploring whether his Miami deal violates any NCAA NIL rules. UM has not been informed of any ongoing NCAA investigation.

Lambert, reached by phone after Sportico’s story was released, was adamant that his NIL deal violated no NCAA rules.

“[Expletive] the NCAA,” Lambert said Friday evening. “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].”

Heitner said Friday evening that Lambert’s deal received authorization from UM and no NCAA rules were broken.

Lambert decided this past summer to offer every Miami Hurricanes football player on scholarship a $500 monthly payment to promote his business under those new NCAA rules that allow players to benefit financially off their name, image and likeness.

He hoped to entice other companies to follow suit. Alas, they didn’t, as the Canes stumbled to a 2-4 start en route to a 7-5 finish.

But Lambert — who gave $540,000 to Hurricanes players this year — said a handful of companies have reached out to him since the Cristobal hiring and appear ready to partner with him and contribute toward UM players.

“There’s not a chance in the world we don’t get to a $1000 a month [per player],” Lambert said. “Not a chance in the world. We’re looking past that. We are flat out going to get to that grand a month in our sleep. And we’re going to do better.”

Is this because of Cristobal’s hiring?

“Abso-[expletive]-lootly,” Lambert said. “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.”

Meanwhile, Sportico reported Friday that the “NCAA is actively looking into a pair of high-profile NIL deals involving football players at Brigham Young University and the University of Miami for potential violations of the association’s interim rules regarding new marketing rights for college athletes, according to multiple people familiar with the probe. NCAA enforcement staffers are trying to determine if these two deals qualify as a pay for play set-up, which is prohibited under the NCAA’s temporary guidelines.”

The Sportico piece cited Lambert’s American Top team offer to all 90 Hurricanes football players as the deal that is being scrutinized by the NCAA.

But Heitner said “we ran the deal by University of Miami compliance department. We received the compliance department’s blessing. We looked at the NCAA’s policy and concluded there’s absolutely no concern. If the NCAA decided to take punitive action, I’m ready to go to war with them.”

UM declined to offer an immediate comment to the Sportico report.

Regarding NIL efforts, Lambert said: “We’re already starting to plan something big. I’m [expletive] excited. People are excited. The winds are behind the sales. It’s going to be our job right now to take advantage of it and go out and raise as much money as we can on these deals. And the staff that they hire will do the rest.

“We don’t have to focus on doing anything other than raising NIL money, getting people involved, helping these kids out, letting these kids come to this university and have the greatest experience on the field. We can help them with experiences off the field. That money, whether they use it to help their mom pay their rent or they get a new car or whatever they want. Go get a date. Kids want to have a comfortable life when they go to school.

“They want to get developed, they want to win, they want to be prepared for the next level and they want to be comfortable while they’re here. If we can help on the NIL side, that’s what we’re going to do.”

THIS AND THAT

Colleague David Wilson has a UM recruiting update here on UM commitments Wesley Bissainthe and Chris Graves and top targets Njalik Kelly and Kevin Coleman – all four of whom are visiting this weekend.

Four other UM commits (quarterback Jacurri Brown, cornerback Khamauri Rogers, receiver Isaiah Horton and safety Markeith Williams) also are expected to visit.

Some other recruiting notes:

Las Vegas Bishop Gorman four-star defensive end Cyrus Moss tweeted that he will visit UM on Sunday after visiting Southern California on Saturday. Oregon was considered the favorite for him before Cristobal left for Miami.

Rivals rates him the No. 5 defensive end and 104th best prospect in the 2022 class….

UM offered Fort Lauderdale Gibbons four-star defensive tackle Ahmad Moten, who’s visiting Iowa State this weekend. The Canes are very much in the mix, as well as Oklahoma, the Cyclones and others. He’s not expected to sign until February. He’s the younger brother of former UM defensive tackle Anthony Moten.

Here’s my Friday piece with an in-depth look at the Dolphins’ thriving top three draft picks and COVID news.

Here’s Susan Miller Degnan’s Friday report on news concerning the Sun Bowl.

This story was originally published December 10, 2021 5:30 PM.

Barry Jackson has written for the Miami Herald since 1986 and has written the Florida Sports Buzz column since 2002.





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