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WWE Announces Inaugural Class of 'Next in Line' College Athletes

While a number of brands have looked to capitalize on the popularity of college athletes with this year's overhaul of NCAA "Name, Image and Likeness" rules, WWE has laid out one of the most interesting programs for college athletes. It could give a sneak peak at some of the wrestling superstars of tomorrow.

In September, Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson, a star wrestler at Minnesota, signed a deal with the WWE. He will now be joined by 15 more college athletes in the WWE's new "Next in Line" program.

Among the headliners: Fresno State women's basketball players Haley and Hanna Cavinder, twin sisters who are no stranger to the NIL world. The pair, who are extremely popular on TikTok and other social media platforms, are among the most active college athletes in the NIL world. Over the summer, they signed deals with Six Star Pro Nutrition and Boost Mobile, among others.

The full list of WWE "Next in Line" athletes announced on Wednesday:

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

“The WWE NIL program has the potential to be transformational to our business,” WWE executive Paul “Triple H” Levesque said last week. “By creating partnerships with elite athletes at all levels across a wide variety of college sports, we will dramatically expand our pool of talent and create a system that readies NCAA competitors for WWE once their collegiate careers come to a close.”

The partnership will give WWE NIL athletes access to the company's Performance Center, “along with resources in brand building, media training, communications, live event promotion, creative writing, and community relations,” per Wrestling Observer. The athletes will also have the potential to land WWE contracts at the end of the NIL program.

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