College sports will never be the same after the United States Supreme Court ruled that college athletes were legally allowed to accept endorsement deals using their names and likenesses. The move came just in time for Fresno State basketball stars turned TikTok sensations, Hanna and Haley Cavinder. With three million followers, the twins are already leveraging their influence for a serious payday.
The Cavinder twins finally get to turn a profit
As of July 1, 2021, student-athletes are legally allowed to start profiting off of their names and likenesses. With Hawk Central noting how big-name college athletes like Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon calling for the change, many traditional sports figures fought against such a move. Depending on who you ask, paying student-athletes is somewhere between a human right and the death knell to amateur sports.
Regardless, the moment the calendar turned, the NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) era arrived. Many athletes didn’t waste time using the new law to become rich overnight. Bohannon kicked it off by selling autographs and memorabilia at a fireworks stand. Furthermore, the Tennessean notes how rapper and entrepreneur Master P’s son, Hercy, celebrated with a $2 million deal with Web Apps America before he even donned a jersey at Tennessee.
However, the biggest winners of the latest rule change may be the Cavinder twins of Fresno State.
Who are Hanna and Haley Cavinder?
The Cavinder Twins entered college in 2018. After storied high school careers, the twins both accepted scholarships at Fresno State. The school did not regret the decision. After using their first year to hone their skills, Hanna and Haley Cavinder quickly became the talk of the Mountain West, holding two of the top three scoring spots in the conference.
The guards may have led their team to the Tournament in 2020 had it not been canceled. While Fresno is not a powerhouse, the pair had to settle for the WNIT tournament after missing out on the big dance. Just because they aren’t in March Madness doesn’t mean the twins can’t lay a blueprint that could be key to understanding the importance of the NIL decision.
The Cavinder twins cash in
The Cavinders’ side job as TikTok influencers made them an early target for big companies. Three million followers love their carefree dance moves and comedic stylings. The Cavinders are arguably the most profitable college athletes on the planet as the new law kicks in. Yes, women’s basketball often slides behind other sports, but the power of TikTok is the key to their success.
As soon as the calendar hit July, Boost unleashed a billboard in Times Square. Boost Mobile’s CEO Stephen Stokols spoke to Yahoo Sports about how important it was to sign the Cavinders:
That was an ideal one for us to kind of launch and say, “Hey, look, this isn’t just about blue-chip athletes coming in and sort of trying to get them before [they get to] the NBA or NFL.” This is about all athletes. And every athlete in every sport in every type of school has an opportunity to really create value for themselves.
According to SI, the deal could net them $3 million, roughly eighty cents per follower. The move isn’t just about TikTok, however. Boost Mobile is using a strategy that many other companies will likely use. Yes, the average college athlete isn’t going to have the national appeal. But local heroes like the Cavinders can help them tap into new money in small towns across the country.
“We want sort of local heroes, we want the female athlete that has kind of overcome, the female athlete that’s done a good job doing great things on social media, has a following, has relevance in her local community,” Stokols explained.
Deals like this will continue coming in. However, the Cavinders may become pioneers. Utilizing their athletic skills to gain influencer status, the social media era of sports endorsement will never be the same. More prominent names will likely follow, but the Cavinders’ Boost Mobile deal will help thousands of athletes beyond them.