Bulldog Breakdown: A look back at the Cavinder twins' first season with NIL

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Last summer, the business side of college sports changed forever with the introduction of name, image, and likeness deals for student athletes.

And two of the biggest names to reap the benefits - Fresno State basketball stars Haley and Hanna Cavinder.

The twins gained notoriety with their massive social media followings, paving the way for them to become the first college athletes to sign a deal back on July 1, 2021 with Boost Mobile.

The big move ushered in a new era of college athletics, with a billboard featuring the duo in Times Square.

Sports Attorney Darren Heitner has been working alongside the twins, and has been an NIL advocate for years.

"I think what's most interesting with the Cavinder twins is that we haven't been able to breathe since that day," Heitner said. "Everyday it seems like there's a new opportunity that's coming in our direction."

But after just one season, the NCAA is already set to review its policies.

"It's(NCAA) hands are tied based on the many states that have passed their own laws," Heitner said.

Heitner believes the primary concern is whether NIL is being used to recruit athletes to specific schools.

"Most of the people complaining are those who had established a lot of power," Heitner said. "The coaches at Alabama, Ole Miss, and other SEC schools primarily are a little bit upset because they don't have that same grip on power that they once did."

Heitner believes NIL opens the floor to innovation and creativity for all schools, shifting the balance of power for years to come.

Former Fresno State quarterback and Super Bowl champ, Trent Dilfer believes NIL could help schools like like his alma mater.

"Fresno's got a great opportunity to grow during NIL," Dilfer said. "They've brought back coach Jeff Tedford, a legendary head coach. I mean it's an opportunity for the Fresno business community to get behind the school."

Despite the obligations -- head coach Jaime White hasn't seen the twins' NIL commitments affect their play.

"To play under the microscope of that many people is something you really have to deal with," White said. "I haven't seen it or hasn't affected our team in really anyway."

For now the future of college athletes profiting off their name looks bright, but the Cavinders are doing their best to keep things in perspective.

"Try and set ourselves up for success in the future," the twins said. "Try and optimize it off basketball right now. We're still student athletes, that's our main priority."
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