Eleven months into the name, image and likeness (NIL) era, few college athletes have been as successful as Haley and Hanna Cavinder.
The standout women’s basketball players were on a billboard in Times Square and have deals with WWE, Champs Sports and Six Star Pro Nutrition, among others. The twins have used their social media clout (4 million TikTok followers, plus more than 800,000 on Instagram) to earn more than $1 million, according to the New York Post.
The Tampa Bay Times recently caught up with the Cavinders — who are transferring from Fresno State to Miami — over Zoom. This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length:
What’s the last year been like with NIL?
Hanna: I would say it definitely has changed our lives a lot. I think for female athletes, NIL has been so beneficial. Being able to show that we can get the same opportunities as men in their sports is something that Haley and I are super proud of.
What’s surprised you about how the first year has worked?
Haley: I think what I have seen through the last year is how many people and how many athletes can benefit from NIL in their own unique way. Regardless of if it’s a football star, or us doing social media or a girl that’s a basketball player showcasing her art, I think it’s just so crazy to see how many people can benefit in their different ways.
How has this changed your life?
Hanna: It really has changed it. I think just being able to stay grounded and be around people that help you stay grounded … and keeping the main thing the main thing. Basketball has always been our passion and our favorite hobby to do together. That will always be our main focus, then academics. NIL is also something that Haley and I are super passionate about it as well. Being able to work with companies like Six Star and WWE and Champs that really align with us and fit who we are and showcase that to our audience is something that we love to do.
How do you keep the main thing the main thing?
Haley: Having a good team around us, an attorney like Darren Heitner, and then you have ESM (Everett Sports Management) as our agency. Being able to trust the people in your corner. They’ll handle it, and we can just focus on our priorities of being a student-athlete first, because that’s what we’ve always been passionate about, and then obviously trying to take advantage of name, image and likeness to set us up for success in the future, as well.
How have you made sure you’re choosing the right companies?
Hanna: You don’t want to promote something to your audience or your fanbase that you love that you aren’t really passionate about, because they can see that. You know when you should say no.
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Is there anything in particular you’ve learned?
Haley: Just building relationships and connections with companies, being out, having conversations. Just soaking in knowledge in the business world is something as a 21-year-old kid, I don’t think you can beat that type of experience. I told Hanna, I’ve never learned so much in a year.
What have you learned that’s going to help you when you enter the business world after school?
Hanna: Save your money. Invest your money. We always are trying to think long-term rather than right now. Being able to have that mind-set has helped us, as well.
What went into the decision to transfer to Miami?
Haley: We just wanted to give ourselves the best opportunity to make it to the March Madness tournament and try to set ourselves up the best way for that. That was what the main reason was. We always watch it, but we want to play in it.
Was NIL a factor at all?
Hanna: It really wasn’t. Obviously, we’re not going to sit here and say Miami doesn’t have great business opportunities, but it wasn’t the reason we were transferring. We were transferring because of basketball and all the hard work that we put into it and the goals that we have of going to the March Madness tournament. I think being able to learn from Coach Katie (Meier) and being in the environment that their team has created is something that’s so attractive. How can you say no to that?
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