Legendary Stanford women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer took issue with how LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne was earning big bucks in name, image and likeness (NIL) sponsorships.
Dunne, a junior going into the 2023 season, has one of the largest social media followings of any collegiate athlete across any sport male or female. She reportedly earns around $2 million with various sponsorships such as the activewear brand Vuori, American Eagle and Planet Fuel. Dunne is also signed to one of the biggest agencies in WME Sports.
Dunne boasts more than 6.2 million followers on TikTok and 2.3 million followers on Instagram. The 20-year-old at times posts scantily clad photos and videos, which is partly the reason why her brand is as incredibly successful as it is.
VanDerveer, a staunch supporter of women’s rights who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, said she saw the trend as a “step back” for female athletes.
“I guess sometimes we have this swinging pendulum, where we maybe take two steps forward, and then we take a step back,” she told The New York Times in a recent interview. “We’re fighting for all the opportunities to compete, to play, to have resources, to have facilities, to have coaches, and all the things that go with Olympic-caliber athletics.
“This is a step back,” she added.
Dunne told the paper she is proud of what she has been able to accomplish with the floodgates opening for NIL deals.
“Seven figures,” she said. “That is something I’m proud of. Especially since I’m a woman in college sports. There are no professional leagues for most women’s sports after college.”
The New Jersey native is also an accomplished collegiate gymnast and has proven to excel on and off the floor.
When Dunne first started at LSU in 2021, she made the SEC’s First-Year Academic Honor Roll and was a WCGA Academic All-American as well. She was a WCGA All-American in the uneven bars and, in 2022, was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.