Miami Hurricanes guard Isaiah Wong will enter the transfer portal Friday if his name, image and likeness (NIL) deal is not boosted, per his agent.
“If Isaiah and his family don’t feel that the NIL number meets their expectations they will be entering the transfer portal tomorrow, while maintaining his eligibility in the NBA draft and going through the draft process,” Wong’s agent Adam Papas said.
Wong was a starter and second-leading scorer on Miami’s Elite Eight team; he is also a two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference player. He declared for the NBA draft earlier this week but could still return to college next season.
Isaiah Wong the trailblazer
This is the first time since NIL deals became operational that a prominent player is actively demanding increased compensation and threatening to leave if his request is not met. In many ways, this is akin to a disgruntled star either sitting out or forcing a trade from a professional organization.
However, Wong’s primary focus is staying at Miami, with the increased payout that he feels he deserves.
“Isaiah would like to stay at Miami,” Papas said. “He had a great season leading his team to the Elite Eight. He has seen what incoming Miami Hurricane basketball players are getting in NIL and would like his NIL to reflect that he was a team leader of an Elite Eight team.”
Florida law stipulates that universities are not allowed to participate directly in NIL deals— thereby, the school had no comment on the matter. Papas clarified that he had had no correspondence with Miami staff over Wong’s demands, per ESPN reports.
Papas was the man behind the Kansas State transfer Nijel Pack’s two-year, $800,000 NIL deal that also came with a new car and saw him transfer to Miami. Pack was the top-ranked player in the portal and was a massive land for a Miami team that is rebuilding following the departures of three of its five starters from last season’s March Madness team.
The man behind the curtains
Pack’s deal was funded by billionaire John Ruiz, an ex-television lawyer who has been active in negotiating several NIL deals across multiple sports, and most recently enticing twins Haley and Hanna Cavinder to relocate from Fresno State to Coral Gables.
In total, Ruiz has agreed to or entered negotiations with 111 Hurricanes athletes to promote his businesses LifeWallet and Cigarette Racing.
“It’s a unique situation just completing Nijel Pack’s deal with Miami,” said Papas. “Understanding what John Ruiz is trying to do with the NIL space and the city of Miami, we feel the value of Isaiah Wong should meet or exceed the value of an incoming transfer.”
Ruiz is aware of Wong’s sentiments but has stated that he is not going to compromise with the soon-to-be junior guard.
“Isaiah is under contract,” Ruiz said in a text message to ESPN. “He has been treated by LifeWallet exceptionally well. If that is what he decides, I wish him well, however, I DO NOT renegotiate! I cannot disclose the amount, but what I can say is that he was treated very fairly.”
Ruiz’s handling of NIL deals and Wong’s impending decision Friday represent the murkiness of the NIL legislature, for while many around the sporting world have come to agree that compensating players is a positive, the NCAA has turned into the wild west.
The unregulated market greatly behooves larger and wealthier institutions with the financial backing to go out and lure players to their area at the expense of better long-term landing spots. Wong’s demands are also parallel to the “player empowerment” era in the NBA that has led stars to demand trades, sit out seasons, and force teams to sell their assets to appease their star.
Players have until May 1 to enter the transfer portal and keep their eligibility for next season. Wong will be highly sought-after if he chooses to leave South Beach, following a season in which he averaged 15.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.0 assists.