WWE Announces Inaugural Class Of NIL Athletes to Join Gable Steveson

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 8, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 01: Fresno State Basketball players Haley (L) and Hanna Cavinder (R) announce endorsements on July 01, 2021 in New York City. Their announcement comes following a decision by the NCAA to allow collegiate athletes to earn income based on their name, image and likeness (NIL).  (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
John Lamparski/Getty Images

WWE announced its inaugural class for the "Next In Line" name, image and likeness (NIL) program at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday.

The company tweeted a rundown of the 15 collegiate athletes who will be given an opportunity to earn a WWE contract in the future:


The inaugural <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WWENIL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WWENIL</a> class has been revealed! <a href="https://t.co/qf4XVQlje3">https://t.co/qf4XVQlje3</a>

The first 15 entrants into the program are as follows:

  • Carlos Aviles, track and field, Ohio State
  • Haley Cavinder, basketball, Fresno State
  • Hanna Cavinder, basketball, Fresno State
  • A.J. Ferrari, wrestling, Oklahoma State
  • Lexi Gordon, basketball, Duke
  • Aleeya Hutchins, track and field, Wake Forest
  • John Krahn, football, Portland State
  • Glen Logan, football, LSU
  • Isaac Odugbesan, track and field, Alabama
  • Mason Parris, wrestling, Michigan
  • Masai Russell, track and field, Kentucky
  • Jon Seaton, football, Elon
  • Joe Spivak, football, Northwestern
  • Dalton Wagner, football, Arkansas
  • Riley White, track and field, Alabama

WWE officially announced the Next In Line program last week, noting that it will use the NCAA's new NIL rules to bring in college athletes and teach them about "brand building, media training, communications, live event promotion, creative writing and community relations."

College athletes are now allowed to profit from their name, image and likeness, which has opened the door for them to work with companies like WWE while still maintaining their college eligibility.

WWE noted that standouts from the Next In Line initiative will be offered contracts and given the chance to become WWE Superstars.

The program was created after WWE finalized its first-ever NIL contract with University of Minnesota wrestler Gable Steveson, who won a gold medal at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Steveson is completing his final year at Minnesota as an amateur wrestler while simultaneously preparing for WWE, and he will become a WWE Superstar after his college wrestling season concludes.

Of the athletes joining the NIL program, Haley and Hanna Cavinder may be the best-known because of their social media following.

The twin sisters play basketball at Fresno State, and have 3.8 million followers on Tik Tok. They also became among the first college athletes to sign an NIL deal when they signed with Boost Mobile.

Now, WWE will look to mold the Cavinder twins and the other athletes it brought in for "Next In Line" into WWE's stars of the future.

Listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot wrestling topics. Catch the latest episode in the player below.