Wolverines first to partner in new NIL venture

Break out your checkbooks — or cryptowallets — Michigan football fans. Wolverines players are headed to the world of NFTs.

Not to be confused with the NFL, where multiple Wolverines are expected to be drafted in late April, Michigan players’ likenesses will soon be attainable as individual “nonfungible tokens”. NFTs are unique digital assets, usually audio or visual files purchased with cryptocurrency, that represent real-world objects and are stored on a blockchain.

BlockPack, a company that creates NFT marketplaces and plans to link them with college sports fans, will make the digital tokens and facilitate their resulting auction, according to a release from the company. Players will provide the images themselves, said Richard Oh, BlockPack’s CEO.

Last summer, the NCAA rescinded or lightened most rules that barred student-athletes from making money based on their name, image and likeness. Oh believes this partnership with Michigan will be the first of its kind.

A Michigan associate athletics director declined to comment on any potential BlockPack relationship with players, saying simply the company is not an official U-M partner or licensee. That makes sense because universities, due to state regulations that go into effect later this year, are not supposed to have an economic involvement or oversight of NIL deals with students.

Oh said he had been in contact with Michigan officials, also adding that state and NCAA rules bar the university from reviewing or participating in agreements.

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Michigan football players were the first partners in this exercise, Oh said, because of…

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