Home Hockey jerseys Three Michigan football players set to release first college-licensed NFTs

Three Michigan football players set to release first college-licensed NFTs

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Valiant Management Group is at the forefront of another name, image and likeness deal with University of Michigan Athletics.

Valiant, founded by former Wolverines football player Jared Wangler and hockey player Niko Porikos, has reached deals with Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy, receiver Andrel Anthony and running back Donovan Edwards and will publish the three players’ first college-licensed non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on Sunday.

“It’s very cool to actually be able to launch these things,” Porikos told MLive on Thursday. “We locked in the players we wanted who were willing to do this with us, and obviously those are big enough names that we could get some good traction on this and keep it going from there.”

Since July 1, NCAA athletes have enjoyed their NIL through opportunities such as marketing partnerships, media appearances and private workouts.

But UM also has its own NIL policy that prohibits student-athletes from using school marks without license approval.

Currently, Valiant and The M Den, Michigan’s official retailer, are the only vendors authorized to use varsity marks in NIL agreements with current student-athletes, Porikos said.

While other Michigan student-athletes have previously released NFTs, which are essentially digital collectibles, they were not permitted to use the university’s trademarks. McCarthy, Anthony and Edwards’ NFTs will feature them in official Michigan jerseys and the team’s signature winged helmet.

Players receive a commission on each NFT sold. Three levels of NFT are available for each player, which will be sold on the Valiant website. There’s a gold-level 1-on-1 NFT that will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, and 100 silver-level NFTs from each solid player for between $200 and $250. It includes a group Zoom call with the player and an autographed photo.

Blue tier NFTs are sold for $50 each, and there are 250 available for each player.

In July, Valiant helped negotiate a group licensing agreement between The M Den and UM to sell Jordan Brand football shirts with player names on the back. It was a deal considered the first in college football.

However, Michigan’s lack of an NIL program was reportedly a key reason head coach Jim Harbaugh explored NFL opportunities this offseason, but Porikos said the university continues to take steps in the right direction.

Earlier this month, UM launched its “VICTORS Local Exchange” program, an NIL business registry that connects businesses with Michigan student-athletes through a streamlined process.

Helping Michigan in this endeavor is INFLCR, a Birmingham, Alabama-based marketing firm that provides content and compliance software to schools across the country. Valiant, which has secured nearly $1 million in NIL contracts with UM athletes since July, has since partnered with the INFLCR.

Once a NIL agreement between a registered business and a student-athlete is reached, the business will use the VICTORS exchange to create a transaction that directly pays the student-athlete and automates a disclosure to the compliance dashboard of the INFLCR.

“Initially, we had to send contracts to every captain of every team, get them to their teammates, get them signed, collect them,” Porikos said. “Once you get that, you have to send a 1099 (tax form) to every athlete at the back, make sure they are filing their taxes the right way. Now INFLCR is like an all-in-one solution where we can have, say, four of our Michigan hockey player jersey t-shirts (are purchased), instead of sending those documents to Rick Bancroft (director of hockey operations) and having Rick put them in their stalls and having us come back for the piece of paper, we can have our own roster on INFLCR. Michigan is notified of every deal that comes through, so we don’t have to sit around and email the chief compliance officer and say, “Hey, we work with JJ and that’s what we do”. This is how we move on to the next step.

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