As college football enters a new landscape with the emergence of the NIL and the transfer portal, I can only think of the institutional advantages the University of Michigan has. As James Earl Jones puts it “We are the greatest university in the world.” Despite what those pretentious, tweed jacket wearing elites on the East coast say, no university can match the academic prestige and athletic prowess of the Michigan Wolverines. We deserve to support our players’ capacity to profit from their Name, Image, and Likeness.
As college football and basketball become games between the haves and have nots, it is time for the University of Michigan to remain true to its innovative roots. To every Michigan Fan, Alumni, and Booster: Don’t you know, pump it up! You’ve got to pump it up!
Those lyrics from the song “Pump It Up!” as remixed by British DJ Endor played after every touchdown upon the glorious, snowy, November fall of 2021, resulting in the Wolverines sending that “team down south” back home miserable like they deserve to be. Let those lyrics be a reminder of what this university can accomplish on the field and the dividends that it pays after.
I don’t believe there is a single university that can match Michigan’s resources. We have the best active alumni base in the country – an alumni base clamoring for continued, sustained athletic success. In that spirit, I want to remark on the University’s recent Name, Image, and Likeness progression.
To every Michigan Fan, Alumni, and Booster: Don’t you know, pump it up! You’ve got to pump it up!
With NIL policies in place, we have the unique opportunity as a national brand to advertise, build a base of loyal athletes, and achieve a financially dominant program in the Big Ten. Starting locally, our fellow Wolverines should appear on the face of every car dealership, mall, and restaurant in the greater Ann Arbor and perhaps even Detroit area.
Nothing would make me happier to see the faces of JJ McCarthy, Andrel Anthony, Donovan Edwards, Will Johnson, Frankie Collins, Hunter Dickinson, Naz Hillman, Owen Power, and Matty Beniers on every billboard along I-94. We are a proud university with a powerful athletic program and we should take pride in our athletes. These names, belonging to great men and women, are the futures of their respective sports leagues. Make no mistake: if we don’t promote our athletes, we will fall behind our rivals.
However, the University recently updated its NIL policy. The University, in partnership with INCLR, created the VICTORS Local Exchange which aims at streamlining the NIL process and providing a marketplace for these athletes to improve their own individual branding opportunities. This is a pioneering, centrally located source to communicate directly with athletes.
Unfortunately for proud Michigan fans, there is a play from the playbook of the school down south from which Michigan Athletics would stand to benefit if implemented. As reported in Sports Illustrated, Ohio State, those poisonous buckeye nuts, had some of the highest grossing NIL deals for its players out of any school in the country. As the victors valiant, we have more resources than any of our chief rivals. Michigan football brought in $10 million more revenue dollars than did OSU in 2020 despite COVID difficulties, at $125.8 million. We have an ace to play with NIL, so let’s play it!
If we don’t promote our athletes, we will fall behind our rivals.
Michigan boosters, you’ve got to pump it up! After a successful 2021 football season, let’s build off of this momentum. Let us remain committed to winning; let us be the champions of the West.
Above all, my biggest hope is the new NIL system will afford this University the opportunity to change the landscape of college sports and advance this institution into new heights.