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Michigan’s ‘One More Year Fund’ raises over $100K to retain top football players

Photo credit: Michigan Athletics

Over the course of a little over a week, Michigan football retained five top players to return to Ann Arbor for a fifth year.

Their statements had similar sentiments — appreciation for their school, unfinished business and the quest for a championship — putting it all on the line for one more year.

RELATED: Blake Corum announces return to Michigan following creation of the ‘One More Year Fund’

Earlier this month, the “One More Year Fund“, created by Valiant Management Group, organized in an attempt to retain Michigan seniors debating their football future, with four student-athletes — Blake Corum, Zak Zinker, Trevor Keegan and Cornelius Johnson — cited as major players in the creation of the collective. A couple weeks and over $104,000 raised later, the collective surpassed expectations.

“The future of Michigan football and Michigan NIL has never been brighter.” Justin Roh, Director of Partnerships at Valiant Management, told The Michigan Insider. “The purpose of the One More Year Fund was: to show Michigan’s student-athletes the power of the Michigan network as they made decisions about their future; and to give the entire fanbase the chance to participate in Valiant’s NIL efforts in a meaningful way. Clearly the fans responded, and we’re excited to see how many players have made the decision to come back and join Team 144.”

All the money raised will go directly to the players, including Kris Jenkins, who recommitted this past week.

While each individual athlete had their own reasons for returning — some potentially without the persuasion of the fund — there is no doubt it had an impact. Corum, the Wolverine’s star running back who found himself in Heisman contention this season, stated his return was a “business decision”, and cited both the fund, as well as his desire for a degree as reasons for returning.

He even took to Twitter to try and persuade Zinker and Keegan back to Michigan, the bookend guards who helped Corum in his dominant season.

“Help bring my O-line back. We need them big holes,” Corum said. “Hopefully once they hear this, and we can find out a way to get them a bit of dough, they’ll come back and be ready to pave the way and keep this thing pushing.”

RELATED: Michigan football players, Telemus Capital agree to NIL partnership

The success of the “One More Year Fund” shows the prominence collectives have on campus, and the overall importance of them when it comes to recruitment and retention of athletes. At an institution like Michigan, their collectives benefit from an elite alumni network, a national fan base and top tier athletics to boot. As one of the first efforts of a collective openly developing programs to retain athletes, Michigan regent Jordan Acker believes other schools should follow suit.

“This kind of NIL program is what will, at least in the short to medium term, benefit college football as a whole,” Acker said. “It’s a program other schools’ collectives should replicate.”

Last month, Michigan athletic director Wade Manuel made a push to donors and fans alike to support the schools collectives, and the “One More Year Fund” is proof that his efforts are paying off.