South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Haley and Hanna Cavinder are on the forefront of the college sports business landscape.
The women’s basketball stars have earned accolades for their performance on the court and have become prominent social media influencers. The twin sisters have millions of followers on their various social media accounts and were among the first to capitalize on it, securing NIL deals as soon as the NCAA permitted it.
The Cavinders are taking their talents to Coral Gables, Fla., now, transferring from Fresno State to Miami, where they can help improve a Hurricanes squad that reached the ACC tournament final and made the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I know that there are probably a lot of assumptions, being some of the forerunners of NIL, but our main reason was transferring was to get to the March Madness tournament and to be a part of a team like the University of Miami has to offer,” Hanna said.
“Miami obviously has great opportunities for business, but that wasn’t one of the reasons why we were transferring. It was because of our goals and ambitions in basketball.”
The twins, who are both 5-foot-6 guards, will likely play big roles in trying to get the Hurricanes back to the tournament. Both have two years of eligibility remaining.
While at Fresno State, Haley averaged 19.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists last season. She was a three-time All-Mountain West pick and was the 2021 Mountain West Player of the Year. Hanna averaged 14.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists last season and has twice been an All-Mountain West selection.
Other programs tried to recruit the two standout players, but they were instantly drawn to UM after they visited Miami.
“What stuck out to the University of Miami and why we chose them was coach Katie [Meier] and her staff,” Haley said. “When we got to campus, it just felt so genuine. I think you can’t fake it and just shows the players’ love towards their coaching staff and especially the leadership from coach Katie was something that was so attractive to Hanna and I.
“I was like, ‘I want to go here.’ I told Hanna when we were on the visit, ‘I literally want to come here.’ ”
Moving from Fresno to Miami also opens the door for more NIL opportunities. The Cavinders have already inked deals with BoostMobile, the WWE and Six Star Pro Nutrition, participating in the latter’s current campaign to give away 50 female sports stars’ jerseys to celebrate 50 years of Title IX.
Hanna said they have learned how to manage their time better, working on balancing their basketball careers with college academics and business opportunities.
“We didn’t know what to expect with name, image and likeness passing July 1st, so I think taking it day by day and just learning good time management, prioritizing the right things and being able to vocalize it with our team,” Haley said. “If we’re busy one day or we’re just overwhelmed, being able to communicate that.”
Not only do the Cavinder twins have a larger social media following than UM women’s basketball team, but they surpass the football team and the rest of the athletics program, as well. Their largest following is on TikTok, where they have more than four million followers and more than 100 million likes. They also have hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram.
Jake Duhaime, the Communications Lead for Iovate (the parent company for Six Star Pro Nutrition) said the Cavinders’ large social media following makes them perfect for marketing NIL deals.
“The second NIL became a thing, Hanna and Haley’s social audiences really shifted the way a marketer really thinks about college marketing,” Duhaime said.
“It used to be all about Greek life and how do you win students on campus, and the athletes were never able to monetize, which was completely unfair and really unjustified. So when Hanna and Haley bring their talents to South Beach, they’re doing so with a built-in marketing audience that brand marketers like me find extremely valuable.”
The sisters have not made their way to Miami yet but plan to arrive in South Florida this week for summer workouts — and to enjoy beach weather before the season begins.
“I think there’s a lot more to do in Miami outside of basketball, but also we love the beach,” Haley said. “So whenever there’s free time or anything, Hanna and I, we love the beach.”