The Wolverine

May 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MAY 2022 THE WOLVERINE 9 N ame, image and likeness (NIL) in college athletics continues to evolve and take shape. Michigan was criticized early on for a slower- moving process, but one company has been a driving force behind de- velopments on the NIL front. Valiant Management Group, led by former U-M athletes Jared Wangler and Niko Porikos, has helped put together nearly $1 million in NIL deals for student- athletes through marketing, ap- pearances, memorabilia and much more. Among their projects was a signing event after the spring game where football players were paid a mini- mum for their participation in the event. U-M has a valuable partner in the NIL space with the Valiant team. "The school realizes and wants to be a support system for the athletes," Wangler told's Trevor Ritchie. "They want to be able to educate them. They want to be able to have the systems in place for them to maximize NIL, but the way the state law is written, they cannot facilitate NIL activity. They don't want to put an athlete's eligibility at risk, and they don't want to put the university's brand at risk by coming in and facilitating activity. "When you look at other states, there are different rules. The state of Utah doesn't have that facilitation rule, so Utah was able to put together an NIL deal for the entire football team where all the walk-ons were put on scholarship through an existing partner at the univer- sity. The school can go and set that up be- cause there's no rule against facilitation, but here at the University of Michigan, we don't have the luxury of being able to do that. "That's why a group like Valiant, if there ever were to be a deal for the entire team, the school can't go set that up; we go set that up. We find sponsors and com- panies that want to promote the event and we then broker that with the athlete, submit the disclosure form to the school to make sure it's compliant, and that's the involvement there from the school side." As a former athlete, Wangler says he and his team have a strong connection to the school and the students that are served. "We have relationships with the coach- ing staff and the administration," he said. "We just have an understanding, and no one has the perfect formula on how NIL should be run, but we have an un- derstanding of what the school's code of ethics is and how they would better ap- preciate NIL to take place in the space rather than what some other schools are doing out there. I think long term every school is going to have their own third- party, in-house sports agency that isn't hired by the university but is pretty well- connected with the university, the players and the coaches." Both Wangler and Porikos have experi- ence in the business field, and their business operation is currently only involved with Michigan. They feel that gives them an edge in the landscape when it comes to the competition. "We're specific to the University of Michigan," Wangler said. "The good thing about working with a group like us is that when a deal comes our way, maybe they're trying to work with the top quar- terback on the team but that top quarterback may not be interested in the deal, then we have the op- portunity to pass it along to an- other player on the team. So, there's this trickle-down of brand deals that happens, which is exciting. "For us as a company, we're young. I'm 26. [Porikos] is 28. We both have expe- rience working for bigger agencies, and we have a ton of resources here with our group. … Having young talent that can relate to the student-athletes that we're working with, I think gives us an edge over competitors in the market." This is only the beginning of Valiant's work with Michigan athletes, and they hope their resources and support can continue to expand. "I think in a perfect world we're able to scale and bring on more agents and more resources so that we can bring NIL op- portunities to more students on campus," Wangler said. "We'd like to be able to find a way to get everybody compensated in some way. It's going to take time, but I do think that's feasible in the future. The best-case scenario is being able to grow the company and being able to service the space for every student-athlete on campus." — Anthony Broome Inside Michigan ATHLETICS Valiant Management Group Helping Blaze Trail For NIL At U-M Valiant Management spearheaded a signing event following Michigan's spring football game on April 2 in Ann Arbor. PHOTO COURTESY VALIANT MANAGEMENT

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