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U-M announces Champions Circle as first official NIL collective partner

It’s a big step in the right direction for NIL at U-M.

Illinois v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In a step in the right direction for Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) at the University of Michigan, it was announced on Friday that the Champions Circle has become the first official partner of the university.

In a statement, U-M Director of Athletics Warde Manuel said: “We welcome the Champions Circle as the first U of M collective to achieve the status as an official partner of the Michigan Athletics. Champions Circle has been thoughtful and proactive in its approach to support NIL activities for student-athletes across our entire athletic department.”

Founded in 2022 by former Michigan football player Jared Wangler, Champions Circle is at the forefront of many NIL opportunities for student-athletes at Michigan. The collective partners with Valiant Management Group to produce these opportunities and help get well-deserved money in the pockets of the players. These opportunities include traditional commercials/advertising, personal appearances, autograph sessions and more.

“Champions Circle is proud to be recognized as an official partner of Michigan Athletics,” Wangler said in a statement. “As an alumni-driven organization, we are committed to the success of our student-athletes both on and off the field. We are excited for our partnership to amplify the existing NIL programs that we have built over the past two years.”

Thanks to this partnership, this now means U-M student-athletes are allowed to use the famous Block “M” for any/all NIL opportunities. In a statement, Director of Champions Circle Anna Britnell said: “The Block ‘M’ is the most powerful brand in collegiate athletics. This partnership will afford Champions Circle the opportunity to collaborate with the University of Michigan to greatly enhance the NIL landscape for Michigan student-athletes.”

This is another massive step for the Wolverines in the world of NIL. Just last month, football head coach Jim Harbaugh gave a ringing endorsement for Champions Circle. In part, Harbaugh said: “Champions Circle and Valiant Management Group embody the core values of our program by providing NIL opportunities for our student-athletes. I consider them to be a trusted agent and encourage our Michigan family to support them in their NIL efforts.”

Additionally, Harbaugh wrote a public testimonial for Hail! Impact back in March.

All in all, the university’s leadership seems more welcome to NIL than they did when it was first legalized in the summer of 2021. It has been a slow-moving process, but there appears to be a very bright future for NIL in Ann Arbor.

To contribute to Champions Circle, or to learn more about the collective, click here.