IU football players receive NIL money to promote Stop The Violence Indianapolis

BLOOMINGTON – Hoosiers For Good, the non-profit NIL collective centered on paying IU athletics to promote charities in the name, image and likeness space, is partnering with Stop The Violence Indianapolis on an ambitious, large-scale social media campaign starting this month.

The organizations have teamed up with 114 current IU football players, who will share personal stories and testimonials consistent with Stop The Violence’s mission of helping Indianapolis youth choose positive alternatives to gun violence. Hoosiers For Good Executive Director Tyler Harris and Stop The Violence Co-Director Anthony Beverly will spearhead the campaign, officially titled "Team Up For Peace."

The idea actually sprang out of existing NIL relationships with Stop The Violence and IU men’s basketball players Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson. After witnessing the feedback received when Jackson-Davis and Thompson spoke to a group of area basketball teams at a recent event, both men wondered if there might be room for an even larger effort.

“There’s a lot of momentum with Anthony’s group....,” Harris told IndyStar. “This awareness campaign to continue to get the message out to even a broader audience … we think it has a really good opportunity to make a really big impact for Anthony and their mission.”

According to its website, Stop The Violence is an organization dedicated to “empowering people to take action with(in) the greater Indianapolis area to ensure safety, justice, accountability and healing for people whose lives are affected by violence and poverty.”

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Stop The Violence has partnered with Hoosiers For Good since its inception, with Thompson and Jackson-Davis consistent NIL partners as far back as HFG’s inaugural class last spring.

Their appearance at Stop The Violence’s recent event sparked the idea to build a different kind of partnership.

Through its first year, Hoosiers For Good has connected a few dozen athletes with individual charities. Those relationships often involved, among other things, players being paid for one-to-one interactions, but this one, in addition to involving a substantially larger number of athletes, will be social media-based.

“It’s been a really, really, really good experience. I don’t know of any other school or organization doing it the way Hoosiers For Good is doing it with IU,” Beverley told IndyStar. “These guys have influence. They have influence with people they haven’t even met. When Race and Trayce came, I was a little bit concerned how it was going to turn out. I was really, really impressed with how these high school basketball teams, about 80 people in all, they were really locked in.

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“When I saw that, I said, ‘I think we’re really onto something. How do we maximize this?’ Here we are.”

The campaign calls for participating players to be paid for sharing personal messages through their social media accounts across the next two months. Many, if not most, will be in video form, with players relaying their experiences with gun violence and messages of support for those affected.

According to Harris, the group of players involved — which constitutes nearly the entire IU football team — shares a combined social media following of hundreds of thousands of people.

“We wanted to have a collective audience, a very big group that were all essentially sharing this one important message,” Harris said. “It can make an impact because of one, their audience, but two, how many people are talking about it.”

Total posts will vary by athlete. Players with a larger following won’t be asked to post as often, the expectation being their reach will amplify the message as much as their frequency.

For many of them, it will be personal.

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Recently, Beverly traveled to Bloomington to speak to Indiana’s football team. When he asked players how many had experienced some sort of social media intimidation, conflict or harassment, or witnessed it through a friend or acquaintance on various channels, Beverly estimated more than half the players in the room raised their hands.

Now, they will share those experiences in an effort to inspire wider change.

“On a larger scale, with the football players, one of the things I was talking to one of my mentors about earlier today is how our community has, out of so much fear, frozen up. We’re not using our voice,” Beverly said. “(This campaign) will help people get away from that fear, and start speaking up and speaking out around this issue of violence, and more specifically gun violence in our community.

“When they see athletes doing it, hopefully common people will start doing it.”

Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: IU football players receive NIL money to promote anti-violence program