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What Is Illini Guardians?

Mission

The Illini Guardians is comprised of dedicated supporters of the University of Illinois Fighting Illini athletics, committed to fostering powerful and positive relationships between the student-athletes and the University of Illinois business community by harnessing the opportunities created by Illinois’ Name, Image and Likeness legislation, known as the Student-Athlete Endorsement Rights Act. CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT NIL PROGRAMS WE’VE DONE!

How Does This Work?

The dollars raised by Illini Guardians are pooled to create carefully vetted NIL contracts with the student-athletes.  As among the highest profile students at the University, Illinois student-athletes are indeed ambassadors to reflect on their experiences and connect with outside organizations.  For example, Illini Guardians enter NIL contracts with student-athletes to make appearances at SCHOOLS AND YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS both in their home communities and throughout Illinois.  Through the outstanding professional networks that run through Illini Guardians, we help match NIL opportunities between the student-athletes and interested businesses.  The Illini Guardians are positioned to ensure that such NIL contracts do not interfere with student-athletes’ academic or athletic obligations, and that transparency and accountability are maintained. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO FUEL THE NIL OPPORTUNITIES THAT WILL ALLOW ILLINOIS ATHLETICS TO COMPETE AND THRIVE!

Who Are We?

The Illini Guardians are volunteers. We are alumni. We are leaders.  We come to this effort with decades of professional success in the fields of law, banking, business, and other areas.  We are motivated only by the desire to create a pillar of strength for the Illini student-athletes that allows (1) Illini programs to remain at the very pinnacle of their sports, (2) while elevating the profile of the programs and deepening the ties with the business and alumni communities, (3) and working toward opportunities that allow young people to give back to their communities, to financially benefit from their skills, talents and unending work ethic, and to position them for opportunity and success that will stretch far into their own alumni years. 

Adam Fleischer, B.S. ’91, J.D. ’94

Adam practices insurance coverage litigation at the Chicago firm, BatesCarey. In recent years, Adam was named as one of a select group of attorneys from 51 countries honored by their peers through selection to London-based Who’s Who Legal for Insurance and Reinsurance. The National Law Journal named Adam as one of its “Elite Boutique Trailblazers” for his groundbreaking work in the insurance aspects of the nation’s opioid epidemic, and Crain’s Chicago Business featured Adam as a GenEx Notable Leader in the Law. Chambers USA has ranked Adam as one of the top insurance litigators in the country, having argued and established legal precedent in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Fifth Circuit, Eighth Circuit and Ninth Circuit.

Louis Margaglione, B.A. ’92

Louis oversees development for the Treasury Historical Association in Washington, D.C., a charitable trust that provides funding for the preservation of the U.S. Treasury Building and its decorative arts collection. Prior to this, he spent 25 years in banking advising and deal-making for privately held corporations.

He has extensive senior volunteer leadership experience with the University of Illinois, serving on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Board, and as Chair of the Urbana Alumni Advisory Board.

He presently serves as President of the Guild Board at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and is a returning alumni fellow at the Cline Institute for Advanced Social Research.

Pat Basu, B.S. ’00

After receiving his BS in Mechanical Engineering from U of I, Dr. Basu went on to earn an MD and MBA from the University of Chicago, as well as participating in the Faculty Leadership Program at Stanford University.

Pat also had the honor of serving the Obama administration as a White House Fellow and Senior Advisor to execute portions of the administration’s economic and health agendas.

Pat currently serves at the President and CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and in was recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of its 40 Under 40 to watch in Chicago.

Robert Ballsrud, B.S. ’94

Bob is Executive Managing Director of Busey Wealth Management in Champaign, Illinois.  He has previously served on the board of Crisis Nursery, and currently sits on the Advancement Council of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and on the Advisory Committee for Japan House at the University of Illinois.

Creg McDonald, ALS, ’87

Creg is the President of the McDonald Group Real Estate, which has been the top real estate company in Champaign since 2010. Creg has been advisor, consultant, friend and fan to generations of Illini players and their families.

Thomas DiSanto, ALS, ’87

Tom is the owner of Joe’s on Weed Street, Chicago’s premier Illini bar. Tom also serves on the iFund Chicago Athletic Advisory Board, and has served decades as an integral member of the Chicago Illini Club, hosting countless events and serving as the orange and blue backbone of Illini Nation.