Cavinder twins won't return at Miami for fifth season

Twins Haley Cavinder and Hanna Cavinder of the Miami Hurricanes have been through it all together, from their basketball journeys to navigating profound fame amid the new NIL landscape in college sports.

That's why, when it came time to decide whether to use the fifth year of collegiate eligibility that was granted to athletes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they ultimately decided to go out as they came in -- together.

The 22-year-old twins, who helped Miami's magical run to the Elite Eight last month as a No. 9 seed and are among the biggest beneficiaries of recent rules and legislation allowing college athletes to profit from name, image and likeness deals, have decided to forgo their extra year of eligibility to pursue life after basketball.

They made the announcement Tuesday on social media.

Haley told ESPN on Tuesday that she anticipated throughout this year that she'd come back for a fifth season, but after it became clear that Hanna was ready to move on, Haley ultimately realized she didn't want to play without her twin.

"I don't want to play basketball without Hanna," Haley said in a joint interview via Zoom from the twins' hometown of Gilbert, Arizona. "I started with her, so at the end of the day, I want to end basketball and start our new lives together, but it was definitely difficult for me."

Hanna said she started to "develop different passions for different things" throughout this season.

"You grow and learn as a person throughout the year," Hanna said. "I'm ready to take the next chapter in my life and to explore that. We have exciting things coming, so I'm really excited for the next chapter with Haley. We were going to make it work regardless. ... I just wanted Haley to feel as supported as possible, but at end of the day, I think that we're always better together."

The 5-foot-6 twins, who burst into the national spotlight by building massive followings on TikTok and other social media platforms during the pandemic, spent their first three seasons in college at Fresno State before opting to transfer to Miami ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

At that point, they were already top-five in NIL earnings for women's sports and in the top 10 across all sports, according to NIL marketplace Opendorse, through deals with WWE, Champs Sports, LifeWallet and more. Their brand centered around athletics/basketball, health/wellness and fashion.

The Cavinders transferred to Miami with hopes of playing in the NCAA tournament, and the Hurricanes shocked No. 1 seed Indiana in the second round and sent home Villanova and star Maddy Siegrist in the Sweet 16.

Miami ultimately fell to eventual national champion LSU in the Greenville 2 regional final, concluding the season 22-13.

Haley, who started all 35 games for the Hurricanes, averaged a team-best 12.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 30.9 minutes per game, joining teammate Destiny Harden as All-ACC second-team selections.

Hanna averaged 3.8 points, 1.6 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 16.7 minutes off the bench.

"Honestly, everything I wanted to happen, happened -- if not more," Haley said. "I was so happy in the season -- making it to the Elite Eight with that team, those type of people, and building those relationships this season, I couldn't have asked for a better way to go out. I'll always love Miami, and I'm so glad that I transferred and made the jump because we got everything we wanted out of it."

The Cavinders plan to remain in Florida. And while they'll no longer be in the college athletics arena, they intend to still work with their sponsors while exploring opportunities with new ones and looking into business ventures surrounding their passions. They even have a deal with a new media company that'll be announced soon.

Sharing their experiences and lessons learned with the next generation of college athletes is of interest, too.

"Everybody always talks about, 'Oh, you don't want to go into the real world; you don't want to go there yet,'" Hanna said. "I feel like we've been running our business for two years now. It's been a full-time job. ... I think [no longer being in college] will actually allow us to have more time now to focus on business and growing relationships."

The college landscape they leave behind is one forever changed by NIL, and the Cavinders showed one way to make the most of it while on campus and beyond, especially as female athletes in an era when women's sports are on a meteoric rise.

"I think that when everybody first thought about NIL, it was always the football players, basketball [players] ... but nobody really talked about the impact that women's athletes can have," Hanna said. "I think that we are great examples of that."

Added Haley: "We can be prime examples of showing other people when you're done with college, what NIL can do with your lives."