The University of Michigan Wolverines defeated the University of Washington Huskies 34-13 in Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship game. In advance of the game, the Champions Circle, a name, image, and likeness collective that supports Michigan athletics, had already begun preparing for next season.
The Champions Circle launched the “Those Who Stay” NIL campaign, allowing fans of the maize and blue to support opportunities for Michigan football players returning to Ann Arbor in 2024. Ironically, last season, the Champions Circle created the “One More Year Fund,” which brought back several key players, such as running back Blake Corum and offensive lineman Trevor Keegan, who were instrumental in this year’s pursuit of a national championship.
The momentum behind the “Those Who Stay” NIL campaign is growing, so much that ESPN’s Adam Schefter, a Michigan alumnus, reported via X that the “Those Who Stay” campaign had generated over $100,000 just three days before kickoff.
Retaining talent is crucial in college athletics, particularly in high-revenue sports like football, with the transfer portal and limitless NIL opportunities at the forefront. The “Those Who Stay” campaign website advertises a message stating, “Stop Our Rivals From Stealing Our Players” in white and red, alluding to their rival Ohio State Buckeyes.
Moreover, this is the second season that the Champions Circle has launched an NIL campaign to retain players in Ann Arbor. Having now secured a national championship, it only reinforces the collective’s successful track record of leveraging NIL opportunities to maintain the best talent.
It will be interesting to see if other collectives initiate similar campaigns to keep players. While some critics or players may argue that NIL isn’t a decisive factor, it undeniably plays a role. If a NIL collective can create a strategic approach to retaining players like what Champions Circle implemented with “Those Who Stay,” it can create an appealing environment for potential recruits, especially when it has already helped the program win a championship.