The Wolverine

Sept 2023

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 8 of 67

SEPTEMBER 2023 ❱ THE WOLVERINE 9 BY ANTHONY BROOME A nother big development on the NIL front took place on Aug. 11, with Michigan announcing a formal partner- ship with the Champions Circle collec- tive. It is the first organization of its kind to enter an official partnership with the U-M athletics department. Under the terms of the agreement with Learfield's Michigan Sports Properties, Champions Circle will be allowed to use Michigan wordmarks and logos, includ- ing the Block M, in marketing, fundrais- ing and other promotional activities. The collective will also be able to inte- grate promotional information into of- ficial Michigan football and basketball- related broadcasts and podcasts and will get a push from Michigan's online assets and social media to promote the Cham- pions Circle initiative. "We welcome the Champions Circle as the first U of M collective to achieve the status as an official partner of Michi- gan Athletics," athletics director Warde Manuel said in a press release. "Cham- pions Circle has been thoughtful and proactive in its approach to support NIL activities for student-athletes across our entire athletic department. They have done a tremendous amount of work to properly leverage our marks to benefit our young people." Partnership discussions between U-M and Champions Circle were spearheaded by co-founder and executive director Phil Hollyer, who shared his excitement for an increased opportunity for fans to engage in NIL-related endeavors. "We are very confident that this new partnership will help further our mission of supporting Michigan student-athletes in their pursuit of championships, while at the same time creating new and in- novative ways for fans, alumni and other University of Michigan sponsors to en- gage with Michigan student-athletes." For Champions Circle and U-M, it is a step that has been over 18 months in the making and a benchmark for the collec- tive and Valiant Management. "Having official sponsorship stand- ing with Michigan will allow us to offer a greater variety of unique and engag- ing experiences to fans," Hollyer told The Wolverine. "We are currently looking at a variety of options such as private tours of facilities, different experiences with the teams, practice access or even possibly pregame sideline/court access." Through this partnership, the next step is enhanced visibility for NIL ef- forts in Ann Arbor, starting with sig- nage at Michigan's athletics events and a grassroots effort to get fans and donors involved on a bigger scale. "Our priority is using the promotional assets available to us through Michigan Sports Properties [Learfield] to reach more fans and lean into the power and reach of the Block M," Hollyer said. "We are going to need the support of the alumni and fan network to continue to build a leading NIL program at Michigan." Champions Circle, which was en- dorsed by head football coach Jim Har- baugh earlier this summer, was founded in 2022 as "a community of fans, alumni and supporters whose goal is empower- ing University of Michigan student-ath- letes to be the leaders and best through name, image and likeness." Champions Circle is partnered with Valiant Management Group, run by Jared Wangler and his team, to produce events, curate NIL-related ventures, fundraise and more. ❑ Visit for more information. ❱ Inside Michigan ATHLETICS Champions Circle NIL Collective Becomes First to Enter Partnership with U-M Athletics The official partnership between the Champions Circle NIL collective and the U-M athletics department will enable Champions Circle 'to reach more fans and lean into the power and reach of the Block M,' according to co-founder and executive director Phil Hollyer. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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