It’s no secret that new NIL rules and regulations in college sports are changing the landscape of the NCAA. Warde Manuel and the Michigan Wolverines continue to try and position themselves ahead of the pack with some unique opportunities for their student-athletes.
“Intercollegiate athletics continues to see rapid change at all levels - from rules interpretations and eligibility to strengthening the student-athlete experience and the rights of our young people,” said the Michigan athletic director. “Among the many changes, the adoption and rapid evolution of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) rules dominate headlines and discussions with those who care deeply about our teams.”
Manuel highlighted that Michigan is the first NCAA school to “provide a uniform jersey licensing program for its student-athletes.” This allows student-athletes to earn percentages off of their uniform sales. Then, he spoke about the VICTORS Exchange, a program that was formed in February of this year, that created a registry to connect Michigan student-athletes with businesses, donors, and alumni to form NIL partnerships.
In 2022, the Wolverines also expanded their NIL to collectives. The collectives “are third-party groups external to Michigan Athletics but who combine resources and expertise to provide NIL opportunities to our students.”
Four collectives are currently supported in Ann Arbor including Champions Circle — MGoDAO, Ann Arbor NIL Club, and Stadium & Main. Each of these offers interesting opportunities for Michigan student-athletes, fans of the program, and business partnerships in the Ann Arbor area.
The Champions Circle, also known as Valiant Management Group, helped 120 student-athletes earn a NIL deal with the National Guard. They coordinated this event in mid-July:
120 Michigan student athletes are participating in an NIL deal with the National Guard today.— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) July 15, 2022
They’ll fly in Chanook and Blackhawk helicopters and go through team drills with the guard. pic.twitter.com/4aMux0vpS5
In total, the Champions Circle has serviced over 400 University of Michigan student-athletes earn NIL deals across 15 different teams. That totaled over 1,000 partnerships executed accruing over 4.1 million dollars worth of NIL deals.
MGoDAO tackled NIL in two different ways. The first was with season passes with packages that allowed access to tailgates, events, giveaways, and meetups with student-athletes. In the fall of this year, they also created an NFT collection with some of the players that don the maize and blue.
If you want to interact with Michigan student-athletes, the Ann Arbor NIL club is the way to go. Currently, they work with just the football team, but they are attempting to establish an online community where fans can interact with each other and some of the Wolverines athletes. They also allow the opportunity for fans to meet some of the athletes in digital events with member-only calls. Ann Arbor NIL club also serves as a platform for exclusive content like player-generated podcasts and content discussing games, practices, and more.
Last but not least is Stadium & Main which is an easy-to-use platform for athletes, fans, and businesses. Athletes can down their app and choose the services and set the prices for each of these services they would like to offer from their mobile devices. Then, fans can donate, subscribe to teams, purchase merchandise, and book personalized videos or live video chats. Businesses and brands can also search the platform for specific athletes and book endorsements through the mobile app from 1-500 different athletes at Michigan.
“In keeping with our values and full support of a positive student-athlete experience here at Michigan, we welcome your support of these four organizations and the continued financial support of our partners, fans and supporters in ensuring that Michigan student-athletes continue to be the Leaders and Best,” said Manuel.
This is the first time that the Michigan athletic department and Warde Manuel have formally recognized each of these collectives. A staff that shows support for initiatives like these is only going to bolster awareness and recruiting efforts for each of the Michigan programs if they succeed. As NIL continues to grow, it will be extremely important for the athletic department to expand with it. Support like this shown by Manuel is only going to be a good thing moving forward.