Ahead of a crucial three-game stretch and off-field news, Michigan football is embracing the “Michigan vs Everybody” mantra.
Valiant Management Group, the go-to sports marketing firm for Michigan athletes, has partnered with “Detroit vs Everybody” to re-release “Michigan vs Everybody” T-shirts, with a limited selection being released at The M Den.
As part of the agreement, a portion of proceeds will be donated to the Champions Circle, the official NIL collective of Michigan athletics. Champions Circle is run by Valiant, which has facilitated more than $4 million in deals for Michigan athletes. Multiple Wolverines are expected to wear the T-shirts this weekend as Michigan travels to Happy Valley for a matchup with No. 10 Penn State.
“This collaboration is a testament to the power of partnerships and the support that the Michigan community provides to its student-athletes,” said Jared Wangler, who played at Michigan and is the CEO of Valiant Management. “We’re excited to offer fans a chance to both connect with Michigan and Detroit and give to the Champions Circle in support of Michigan student-athletes’ success.”
Latest on Michigan sign-steal allegations
In the last few weeks, allegations have surfaced that Michigan has run an illegal off-campus scouting operation, which would violate NCAA rules. Connor Stalions, the Michigan football analyst at the center of the NCAA’s investigation into Michigan’s alleged sign-stealing efforts resigned from his position last week.
In a statement from his attorney to The Athletic, Stalions said Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was aware of his conduct around advanced scouting. Pressure has been mounting in the Big Ten for first-year commissioner Tony Petitti to come down with a ruling.
Michigan sent the Big Ten a 10-page letter on Wednesday, responding to the league’s sportsmanship investigation.
“If this were happening in February or March, relative to football, there wouldn’t be the push,” former Big 12 commissioner and current National Football Foundation president Steven Hatchell told On3 earlier this week. “We’re right in the middle of the football season, with the end of the season coming up and greater ramifications. So, it puts a greater light on it right now. It seems like there’s a lot of very thoughtful direction that the commissioner and others are having. You just can’t have a rush to judgment.”
Michigan football builds out NIL program
The Champions Circle collective launched in June 2022, with Wangler envisioning an NIL collective that bridged together the work Valiant Management had already accomplished for athletes in Ann Arbor. The collective formally launched this past summer, with a website and endorsement from Harbaugh. With heavy alumni support, fans are able to join the collective with subscription packages ranging from $10 to $500 monthly.
Initially focused on football and men’s basketball programs, the collective now supports all 29 Michigan athletic programs. Wangler founded the collective along with Phil Hollyer. Anna Britnell has been brought on as the director of Champions Circle.
Michigan football’s NIL approach isn’t only limited to Champions Circle.
The Wolverines launched a plan fit for college sports’ new world in June, dubbed the “M Power” program. Assisting athletes in NIL has been a key piece of M Power. The campaign also has a form where businesses and supporters can reach out, providing contact info with the option to get in touch about making a financial contribution.
Harbaugh also made trips to Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., to meet with donors about NIL this past summer. M Power will assist athletes in locating internships and mentorships, too. In recent years, Michigan has taken team trips to Rome and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. These are all life branding trips and under the M Power umbrella.
To compete in the current world of college football and basketball takes a strong collective framework. Speaking with a number of collective operators spread throughout the country, it is clear there has become an unannounced tiered system. Programs are operating on vastly different budgets. The top-funded organizations aim to have a bankroll of $8 million for an 85-scholarship football roster, multiple sources recently indicated to On3.
More collectives at the Power 5 level are operating in the $3 million to $6 million ballpark. Some have decided to just stop spending significant dollars on high school prospects altogether.
“We’re going to do this, but we’re going to do it the right way,” Wangler previously told On3. “And we’re not going to compromise our integrity for recruits or these NIL agents that are trying to shop recruits around. Because once you compromise it once, you’re kind of going down that path. That’s not where we want to be as a program. We want to dare recruits to come to Michigan. Come to Michigan, and you’ll see how much you can make. It is the biggest brand in college sports, has the strongest alumni network.
“It’s a three- to four-year earning period, rather than just getting a signing bonus or compensation package upfront. We think inevitably could implode the locker room because you’re looking at 18, 19-year-olds who haven’t even played a down yet in college, getting their signing bonus. It’s not the NFL, and it’s not the draft. It’s college sports, and so we’re looking at it that way.”