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By Larry Smith, IlliniGuys, January 20, 2022

CHICAGO, IL – I can’t count how many times I’ve heard Illini fans say over the decades ‘why can’t we have…?’ and fill in the blank. Facilities. Coaches. Players. Attention.

The new game of Name, Image, and Likeness changes that. And after a group led by Champaign businessman Creg McDonald started the ILLNIL.com website in late summer to allow Illini fans and supporters to get into the NIL game, McDonald has also thrown his support behind a new initiative: Illini Guardians.

I first spoke to Chicago attorney and Illinois alum Adam Fleischer about Illini Guardians in October. He felt the same thing as Creg and the rest of us: with the size and overall success of the Illinois fan and alumni base, there is no reason that support for Illini NIL initiatives should be lacking. As with Creg (and anyone else jumping into this space), I fully supported Adam and, having just created our own startup with IlliniGuys, understood how difficult this process could be.

I’m happy to report this morning that, just like IlliniGuys.com did a year earlier, Adam and his crew have gone from 0 to 60 in no time. Three months later, the IlliniGuardians.com website is live and ready for your donations.

“The great thing about this is it’s for all sports”, McDonald told me this morning. “If you want to give $15,000 to the golf team, you can do that here.”

I talked with Adam today as we both were running to complete other chores for our day jobs, each apologizing during our brief call for our respective haste while understanding completely what each is trying to accomplish. Adam – not surprisingly – was very prepared and offered these quotes to share:

“NIL opportunities have opened an untested and novel landscape where rules, expectations and norms are destined to be tested and contorted. Our goal is to bring as much integrity and character as we can to the process so that our student athletes continue to have unparalleled opportunity, but with the transparency and honor that is the hallmark of the University, its students and fans.

“The Illini Guardians will guide student-athletes toward the most lucrative and powerful use of NIL opportunities, while also using their time and talents to benefit local youth organizations, and ultimately to foster the integrity and reputation of a world class university.”

I am thrilled at the work that Creg, Adam, and the rest of the passionate Illini fans involved in these projects have done in such a short amount of time. And we will support them in every way possible. Just as we have had Creg on the IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular radio show when ILLNIL.com launched, you can be sure Adam and the Illini Guardians will be on as well. We created the Sports Spectacular show for reasons like this; to give our favorite sports teams another professional, widespread platform. We are heard in six states across the Midwest every weekend and we can’t to add their story to those we’ve already told.

Now…it’s time for you to do your part. Time to replace ‘why can’t we have..?’ with ‘why didn’t I do…?’ The tools are in place. You have a competent, intelligent, forward-thinking administration calling the shots. You have top-shelf coaches with talented staffs guiding the programs. You have high-level student-athletes performing at the highest level both in competition and in the classroom. You have successful and dedicated sports fans creating opportunities. Now, all that is needed…is you.

To reach the Illini Guardians team visit www.IlliniGuardians.com or email info@IlliniGuardians.com.
To contact our staff, email info@IlliniGuys.com.