The Wolverine

March 2024

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MARCH 2024 ❱ THE WOLVERINE 9 BY ANTHONY BROOME M ichigan has a new head football coach in Sherrone Moore, and now it is incumbent upon the adminis- tration to support him with whatever he needs heading into a new era for the pro- gram and the sport at large. For U-M athletics director Warde Man- uel, many of those conversations could be centered around name, image and like- ness in Ann Arbor. After Moore's Jan. 27 introductory press conference, the Michigan AD weighed in on where he sees NIL within the program and what he thinks the university offers to prospective players coming in. "It's a great place and a great academic school," Manuel said. "I'm not going to shy away from that. That's who we are. We have been very successful with our student-athletes on and off the field. Michigan is a great institution. It's the same institution for the same reason I chose it back in 1986 — because of its great academics and athletics and that combination. It is who we are, and we'll work through it like we always have. "I'm proud of the student-athletes who have come here and the success they've had. You look at this football team and how it was built over time and the success we generated. But you also have to look at the success they've generated in the classroom. The APR [academic progress rate]. The success they've had. The num- ber of Academic All-Big Tens and Aca- demic All-Americans. All those different things that come out. I'm really proud." A lot of programs across the country have used NIL as a direct enticement (aka "pay to play") to players entering the op- eration. Manuel says that while he is sup- portive of the work the NIL collectives have done — namely Champions Circle led by Valiant Management Group — Michigan is not in the business of simply compensating players just to come to Ann Arbor. "I've talked to our donors, and I've talked to our collectives," Manuel said. "I'm fully supportive of them support- ing our student-athletes the right way. We don't own any players. We don't buy them, but we do provide resources for our student-athletes. They have my full sup- port and I love NIL and what it does for our student-athletes. But I don't want us talking about what we have to buy student-athletes and inducing student- athletes. We need to talk about what we can provide, short- and long-term, for the rest of their life. For me, NIL is about teaching kids how to use who they are for the rest of their lives. "For me, it's not a transactional thing. It's a life commitment between Michigan and our student-athletes. The short term is that they get some resources provided to them. The long term is that they can make money over their lifetime because of Michigan, what we teach and their ex- perience with being a student-athlete." NIL was only part of the several hours of talks Manuel had with Moore as the latter's head-coaching tenure began, but the athletics director says that the new Michigan head man is comfortable with his philosophy. "[We talked] a little bit, but not in great detail [about NIL]," Manuel said. "He's been around and knows how we have been able to support our student-athletes through NIL. So, I think he's fully com- fortable with it, and we'll keep moving. "The Champions Circle and other NIL collectives have done great. And like I said, I've been talking to our donors and talking to our fans about supporting our student-athletes. We partnered with Champions Circle for the celebration to support our student-athletes. But Michi- gan's value is a combination of academ- ics, athletics, growth and development that all of our students at this campus go through, along with NIL and things that we can provide. "And as this grows and evolves, we'll look at how we can provide more. It's been great. I think you can talk to our student- athletes. [In hearing some of the players speak], it's been a support to them, and they appreciate the way we go about it." Most recently, on Feb. 14, U-M took a significant step toward bolstering its NIL operations, announcing two power- ful new partnerships designed to enhance the athletics department's investment in NIL and its corresponding management structure. Among the key points of this news is that U-M has joined forces with Altius Sports Partners (ASP) to create an in-house NIL executive general manager role. Likewise, it is adding a senior man- ager of business development role in col- laboration with Learfield and Michigan Sports Properties. ❑ ❱ Inside Michigan ATHLETICS Michigan AD Warde Manuel Checks In On State Of NIL Manuel has remained consistent in his mes- saging about NIL, saying, "It's not a transac- tional thing. It's a life commitment between Michigan and our student-athletes." PHOTO BY DOMINICK SOKOTOFF

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