The Wolverine

December 2021*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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DECEMBER 2021 THE WOLVERINE 9 BY ANTHONY BROOME T he name, image and likeness (NIL) era of college sports has begun, and Michigan has already felt its effects. College athletes are now able to profit off of their personal brands, which is very apparent when stepping into The M Den team stores on campus and around Ann Arbor. The M Den has been selling custom football jerseys and player T-shirts for both football and basketball. The por- tion of the cut from jersey sales has not been revealed, but student-athletes are making $10 for every T-shirt sold at $40. These deals were negotiated and signed with the help of the Valiant Man- agement Group, an NIL agency founded by former football player Jared Wangler. "We could print a T-shirt of any of the 10 billion people on the planet with their name and number, except for the current players [prior to NIL]," The M Den president and co-owner Scott Hirth told The Michigan Daily. "The only thing that changed is now we can add the 130 players on the team to the 10 billion people on the planet." The M Den locations inside Crisler Center have been selling player shirts for every scholarship athlete on the men's basketball roster. As of Nov. 24, women's players Naz Hillmon and Leigha Brown also had T-shirts available in-store. The store's website also has a dedi- cated NIL section with autographed p h o tos, h o c key p u c ks a n d m o re . Sophomore men's basketball center Hunter Dickinson has been one of the bigger names in the NIL landscape, having his own "Big Dickinson Energy" brand and deals with Barstool Sports, among others. As positive as the change has been, he hopes to keep the focus on basketball. "I don't want to do too many right now," he said at Big Ten Basketball Me- dia Days. "At the end of the day, you've got to make sure you're keeping the main thing the main thing. Basketball is the most important thing. That's what got me the deals. If I don't play well, it doesn't matter what kind of deals I have. I'm trying to play well first of all." The athletics department has been supportive of the new efforts as every- one learns the new landscape and tries to get on the same page. "What NIL has very quickly dem- onstrated is there are individuals com- peting at a very strong level who have positivity and messages to share, and they are extremely marketable," associ- ate athletics director Kurt Svoboda told HOUR Detroit in November. "Quality student-athletes that are active in their communities can capitalize now in ways they hadn't been able to. That's a won- derful thing." Men's basketball head coach Juwan Howard continues to support and em- power his players, while also noting there has to be an education process. "Financially, we've got to continue to keep educating our student-athletes," Howard said. "Let's introduce them to FICA. Let's introduce them to paying taxes. Let's educate them to know that before signing a contract, read it. Let's educate them on letting them know what type of rights they're giving up, and what type of partnership they're forming with their brand and with that company's brand. "That's what I will continue to en- courage our student-athletes on, to re- ally think this thing through, be very diligent and patient, and not feel like they've got to go out there and run and get the money. Let's make sure that whatever comes with that money, we know exactly what the responsibilities are before it hits your bank account." ❑ Inside Michigan ATHLETICS NIL Is In Full Swing For Michigan Athletics A new era in college athletics has allowed players to profit directly from sales of jerseys, T-shirts, autographs and more. PHOTO BY ANTHONY BROOME

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