MILWAUKEE — Marquette's motto is "Be the Difference." Now they will live that out with a name, image, and likeness, or NIL non-profit organization, for its university athletes to have a platform to give back to the community.
"Times have changed a lot with social media out there and you can easily be distracted with some things out there and the opportunity to use the NIL. Where with this collective, we're there to guide and mentor them through this process so they don't make a decision they regret," Kiesha Oliver-Hayes says.
Travis Diener, Steve Novak, Rob Jackson, and Oliver-Hayes are all former Marquette basketball players helping the current Golden Eagles. Oliver-Hayes says this is much needed since she played.
"I know when we played, this is something you dreamed of, but you knew it wouldn't happen and look now 20 years later. The fact that there is so much that is unknown is why we started this collective to guide players through this process," Oliver-Hayes says.
For Diener, it's still so new. It's like the great unknown, but he wants to help.
"The good they can be doing, not just on the basketball court, but in the classroom, on the campus and furthermore in the community," Diener says.
But he wants to help them in life.
"Not a lot of these kids are going to have the chance to play professional basketball. Fortunately, I was able to do that, but what are they going to do after they're done playing for Marquette, and to get a head start on that, and to get aligned with some of the charitable organizations we've partnered with I think gives them a perspective on what's truly important in today's society," Diener says.
For Oliver-Hayes, this could retain athletes and prepare them better for the future.
"Being the difference I think is something that will make the difference, that's key for me. I know at some point, your athletic career will end and you as a person, what is that going to live on to be? That's what we're able to do and support these players with," Oliver-Hayes says.
Be The Difference NIL has partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, SHARP Literacy, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Milwaukee, and All-In Milwaukee.