Mar 24, 2023 - Sports

University of Miami basketball players make bank in NIL deals

Two young women with ponytails and orange uniforms make the "U" symbol for University of Miami

Haley Cavinder #14 and Hanna Cavinder #15 celebrate after defeating the Indiana Hoosiers during the second round of the 2023 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament on March 20. Photo: Joe Robbins/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Some University of Miami hoops players will take the court Friday as some of the highest-earning student-athletes in the country, according to On3's valuation rankings for men's and women's college basketball players.

Driving the news: UM's No. 9-seed women's team and No. 5 men's team are both making Sweet 16 appearances Friday.

  • The women's team plays No. 4 Villanova at 2:30pm, while the men's plays No. 1 Houston at 7:15pm.

State of play: Since NCAA rules began allowing student-athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses (NIL) in July 2021, student-athletes have raked in NIL earnings based on their on-field performance, social media influence and overall exposure, Axios Sports' Jeff Tracy writes.

The intrigue: Miami's Haley and Hanna Cavinder — twins who amassed 4.4 million followers on their shared TikTok account during the pandemic — are the two highest-earning female basketball players, per rankings by On3, which compiles data on college sports.

  • Their valuations are pegged at $851,000 each.

Zoom in: The twins have deals with Boost Mobile, Leaf trading cards, Victoria's Secret Pink, Intuit TurboTax and more.

  • A deal they inked this week with artificial intelligence company Caktus AI drew controversy, as the software is designed to help students automate writing assignments.
  • They were also recently at the center of the first-ever NIL infraction stemming from their recruitment as transfers from Fresno State, but only Miami's program and coach were sanctioned.

Meanwhile, players on the UM men's team have also made a splash in NIL deals.

  • Nijel Pack transferred from Kansas State to Miami, where he received a two-year, $800,000 deal from LifeWallet, a company led by outspoken UM supporter and local lawyer John Ruiz.
  • Teammate Isaiah Wong also has a $100,000 LifeWallet deal.

The big picture: Across the NCAA, men's (20.6% of all compensation) and women's (10.2%) basketball players have earned nearly one-third of all NIL money since its July 2021 launch, per Opendorse. That's by far the most of any sport outside of football (55.1%), which dominates.

  • Brands account for over 80% of NIL deals but just 37% of compensation, with payments from wealthy donors (i.e., boosters or collectives) comprising more than 60% of all NIL money.
  • That discrepancy is at the heart of what will shape NIL in year three and beyond, as it is boosters — not brands — who keep the NCAA up at night with their potential to turn NIL into a de facto pay-for-play system.

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