CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — For Haley and Hanna Cavinder, the Elite Eight apparently was enough and their time at Miami is over.
The Cavinder twins — two of the most prominent athletes in the name, image and likeness era of college athletics — announced Tuesday that they will not return to the Hurricanes next season, ending their Miami tenure after one year with the program.
The Cavinders — who are 22 and were listed as seniors on the Miami roster — both played four seasons in college, but they could have played next season, too, because of the NCAA ruling that restored a year of eligibility to all athletes who went through a pandemic-affected season.
They transferred from Fresno State to Miami in April 2022 with hopes of playing in the NCAA Tournament and probably exceeded even their own expectations by helping the Hurricanes fall just short of reaching the Final Four.
“We would like to thank our teammates and coaches for bringing us in as family and being part of a historic season,” the twins said in a statement. “With that being said, Hanna and I have decided to not take our fifth year and start a new chapter in our lives. The U will always be home and we are forever proud to be Hurricanes.”
Haley Cavinder ended this season with 2,065 career points, which was 19th-most among all active Division I players. She averaged 12.2 points per game this season, a team best for Miami — and her 65 makes from 3-point range was another team high, by a wide margin.
Hanna Cavinder averaged 3.8 points this season for Miami. The Hurricanes lost a regional final to eventual national champion LSU, ending the year with a 22-13 record.
The decision was a bit of a surprise, at least from the standpoint of one of the twins. Haley Cavinder said before the NCAA Tournament that she planned to return to the Hurricanes next season for what would have been her final year of collegiate eligibility. Hanna Cavinder said at that time she was leaning toward no longer playing after this season.
And that begged the question: Would one Cavinder twin play without the other? Barring a change of heart, their announcement Tuesday provided the answer.
“I love basketball,” Hanna Cavinder told The Associated Press last month when she discussed leaning toward not playing. “I ride or die basketball. I’ve given basketball so much of my life. And sometimes I’m like, ‘I just want to breathe.’ I really just want to breathe. I want to live. I don’t want to be on a plan. I don’t want to be on a schedule. But at the end of the day, I’m so competitive in life that I don’t know if I’m going to regret it or not.”
The twins have 4.5 million followers on TikTok, part of their enormous footprint in the social media space. When the NIL era started on July 1, 2021, and NCAA rules began allowing athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, the Cavinders were among the first stars: Boost Mobile signed them immediately, touting the deal with a giant advertisement in New York’s Times Square, and many other deals followed.
“What started as us playing basketball 16 years ago turned into something bigger than we could ever imagine,” the twins said Tuesday.
Their decision to come to Miami was scrutinized, and a probe by the NCAA led to coach Katie Meier missing the first three games of this season through a university-imposed suspension that was handed down in anticipation of sanctions surrounding how the twins and their family met with a Hurricanes booster before signing.
The NCAA probe never accused the Cavinders of wrongdoing. Miami eventually was placed on one year of probation after the school and the NCAA agreed that coaches arranged impermissible contact between the booster and the Cavinders.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25