Illini Guardians – a non-profit collective supporting the Illinois Fighting Illini – was founded in Jan. 2022 by Adam Fleischer and Tom DiSanto. Fleischer, an attorney with BatesCarey LLP in Chicago, said the collective’s goal is to form powerful and positive relationships between the student-athletes and the University of Illinois business community by harnessing the opportunities created by Illinois’ NIL legislation. DiSanto, an Illinois alum who owns the bar Joe’s on Weed Street in Chicago, said it was important to form a collective supporting the Illini if they want to win at high levels in football and basketball. “We knew we had to get something going to compete with these other schools because we knew this was going to be the driving force behind keeping up with the Joneses moving forward,” DiSanto said. Since it’s a non-profit, Illini Guardians says it pools money through big-money angel investors, but it also takes contributions from Illini supporters through donations big or small.