Since July 1, 2021, when the NCAA’s new image, name, and likeness policy was in effect, Haley and Hanna Cavinder signed endorsement agreements with 31 brands.
Haley Cavinder, Fresno State’s basketball star, and Hanna Cavinder, the college sports image, likeness era officially began one year ago. They signed sponsorship deals with Boost Mobile at 12:01 a.m. Eastern was the first time NCAA athletes were allowed to sign endorsement agreements.
The Cavinder twins still lead the way with over 5 million followers on Twitter and a new home at the University of Miami. They announced in April that they would be transferring.
The 21-year-old sisters, who are now in their twenties, have formed 31 partnerships with 31 brands over the past 12 months. These include Crocs and GoPuff, as well as Venmo. Darren Heitner is a lawyer who has worked with the twins. He also used to contribute to Forbes. Recently stated that the sisters had earned more than $1,000,000. Forbes has estimated that the Cavinders have made $1.7 million before taxes and fees. This does not include cash they have yet to collect.
They are now at the top of all college sports. Chase Garrett, founder, and CEO at Icon Source, an endorsement platform through which the Cavinders struck a few of their deals, said that the twins are among the top ten most-earning NCAA athletes. All of their contracts on Icon Source exceeded $10,000, far exceeding the average of $2,600 on the platform.
Forbes’ Haley Cavinder says, “It’s been an incredible year, but I’m just super thankful for it.” She speaks from Miami, where she and her younger sister are taking two kinesiology classes this summer in preparation for their senior year. “We have grasped so much over the year, but there is still so much to learn.”
The passage made the NCAA decide to relax its amateurism rules last summer of the Fair Pay to Play Act (California) in 2019. This law promised college athletes that they would soon have the opportunity to keep their eligibility and sign sponsorships. Although the Cavinders began their college careers in Fresno three hours southeast of San Francisco, the legislation was not on their radar.
The first Cavinders heard the whispers that college athletes might have the right to make a profit from their image, name, and likeness. In June 2021, the landmark Supreme Court decision in NCAA v. Alston challenged NCAA’s restrictions on athlete compensation. The NCAA issued an interim NIL policy on June 30 that allowed endorsement deals. It went into effect the next day.
The timing was perfect for the Cavinders. Hanna Cavinder started posting content to TikTok to pass the time of the pandemic. She recruited Haley to her account. Their videos of dance and basketball skills quickly attracted thousands, making them an excellent target for brands who suddenly wanted to enter the college market.
Tom Cavinder, the father of the twins, was a former college basketball player at Nova Southeastern. He had reached out to Garrett and advised them to have their Icon Source profiles ready in the event of a rule change. Garrett also helped to broker the connection with Boost Mobile. Tom Cavinder also met with Heitner who helped Florida to pass NIL legislation in 2020. He introduced the twins at Six Star. Contracts were prepared and ready for use when the clock struck midnight on July 1.
They had planned to arrive in New York to ink the deals as soon as possible. However, due to a severe storm in Pennsylvania, the sisters were forced to sign through WiFi at the airport. The sisters jumped into an Uber to arrive in New York just hours before their first shoot at Six Star at 6 a.m. for a social-media ad. They also appeared on CBS, ESPN, and ABC’s Good Morning America. They were stars.
Six Star, which has used pro athletes to promote its supplements, even signed a 2021 contract with cheerleaders, who weren’t bound by NCAA restrictions on marketing deals. Six Star wanted to make a big splash. Although the company wanted to sign Connecticut’s basketball star Paige Bueckers, it soon realized that she would not be able to do so quickly. She hired an agent and evaluated offers from major brands. Six Star decided to shift its focus to Cavinders. They had both a large audience and on-court praises. Hanna was a member of two all-conference teams, while Haley was the Mountain West player-of-the-year for 2020-21. They also came in a 2-for-1 package.
Jake Duhaime is responsible for Six Star’s influencer and athlete marketing. He also serves as Iovate Health Sciences communications lead. Jake was impressed by the Cavinders offering to brands. Jeff Hoffman, Everett Sports Marketing’s agent for the twins, says they can upload videos to TikTok. They now have over 4 million followers. They can post live to Instagram (where they have almost 900,000.00 followers on three accounts) or in their feeds as Stories or Reels. They can also post YouTube shorts and longer videos (72,000 subscribers). Twitter is another option, with more than 22,000 followers.
Haley Cavinder plays for Fresno State in March 2020
Each platform comes with a different price tag. This allows the twins to have a range of marketing budgets and contracts, from one social media post to a 2-year partnership, as in the case of Champs Sports and WWE pro-wrestling promotion. You can also get TV ads, live appearances, and speaking engagements.
Duhaime says, “This cross-platform appeal has been extraordinary.”
Hoffman believes deals are more lucrative as more brands enter the space. Hoffman is focused on long-term contracts with “tentpoles” categories such as sports water and athleticwear so that the Cavinders can explore more traditional types like fashion. Hanna Cavinder states that it’s about finding the right fit.
Although the twins insist that their move to Miami was about basketball and finding a program that can play in the NCAA tournament, it is easy to see how a bigger market and greater media exposure for an Atlantic Coast Conference program could help them grow their business. Basketball is not the ultimate goal. Both Cavinders said they would not turn down a chance in the WNBA, but that isn’t a sure thing. They are both 5-foot-6 guards.
They are enjoying being entrepreneurs for now. In January, they announced that they would be co-owners in a streetwear company called Baseline Team. This sells basketball shorts with logos from college teams. They have also not touched any money they made, instead of investing it through their parents’ financial advisors.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t enjoy making it.
“Female athletes should have equity in their sport, and I believe NIL has shown that in this past year,” Hanna Cavinder said to Forbes Tuesday, less than one week after the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark law that created new opportunities for women in college sports. Haley and I take great pride in being at the forefront of this.