New Hail! Impact Michigan collective has great promise

Chris Balasby:Chris Balas03/30/23

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To date, the Valiant Collective has been the most successful Michigan endeavor in raising NIL money and opportunities for the student athletes. The folks committed to it have essentially carried the water to this point, one of the big reasons several of U-M’s best players came back on the “one more year” campaign.

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Now, though, there’s a new player, and it’s potentially a big one. Chin Weerappuli’s Hail! Impact non-profit has the backing of significant donors and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh’s support. A few helped Weerappuli and co-founder and MBA graduate Andy Johnson by working tirelessly behind the scenes, and it’s promising and has been well received.

Valiant’s Champions Circle is a for-profit endeavor, though to be clear, their money is for the student-athletes. Hail! Impact registered as a non-profit in February and is waiting for tax exempt status — Ohio State has one called Cohesion Foundation — and as has been reported here previously, the goal is to provide annual stipends of up to $50,000 for position players. Initially, they’re attempting to raise $5,000,000.

This collective is different in that it will work with other nonprofits in which Michigan athletes will get paid for working at charitable events.

A source directly involved told TheWolverine.com weeks ago that a similar endeavor was shot down by the Michigan athletic department months ago. They’ve retooled, however, and it appears several boosters are now more willing to get involved. For a while, they were receiving mixed messages about what the athletic department expected.

In article from the Athletic, Johnson admitted none of that A.D.’s fundraising efforts were set to help them out, and that what they’ve gotten from the department to date — and what they expect to be the foreseeable future — is “wishing luck” and “giving a thumbs up.”

Donors we’ve spoken to admitted they were met by other boosters with “who are you, and why should I do this instead of giving to the athletic department” — almost as though it were a competition for their money.

So … there’s still work to do. But this is another step in the right direction.

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