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March 14, 2022

Fighting Illini Partner with Day Off Social and Illini Guardians to Promote Mental Health Awareness

CHAMPAIGN, IL – One hundred Illinois student-athletes across all sports have partnered with Day Off Social, a national nonprofit created to encourage young people to take time away from social media in pursuit of in person community engagement and healthy personal habits.

“Our goal is to use social media for good,” said Pat Coyle, the founder of Day Off Social, “We want to help Gen Z develop a positive relationship with social media. It’s just so critical, and Illinois student-athletes were the perfect group to help us spread our message.”

The Day Off Social campaign asks participants to refrain from using social media platforms for one full day. In lieu of posting on social media, participants are encouraged to volunteer at local charities in order to deepen ties with the surrounding area and promote genuine interpersonal connections. At least one student athlete from each Illinois varsity sport participating in the Day Off Social campaign.

Sophomore football player Casey Washington is one student-athlete who joined the initiative. “Working with Day Off Social was an easy choice for me,” Washington said. “My sport gets attention on social media, and sometimes that can affect my teammates and I, off the field. I’m glad that I can use NIL to help people focus more on this issue.”

The initiative is sponsored and funded entirely by Illini Guardians, a third-party nonprofit established to support Fighting Illini student-athletes through name, image and likeness activities.

“Altruistic endeavors to benefit Illinois student-athletes is what we are all about. This is a great cause, and there was a natural fit between Illini Guardians and Day Off Social,” said Louis Margaglione, a co-founder of Illini Guardians.

Last year’s changes to state law and NCAA policy allow student-athletes to monetize their name, image and likeness, and this shift has created an opportunity for large groups of student-athletes to partner with businesses that align with their personal values. Illinois student-athletes are the first group to partner with Day Off Social, and Coyle indicated that the organization is looking to work with additional groups of student-athletes at several other universities in the near future.

“I love social media, but there can be too much of a good thing. I’m happy to take this chance to remind other college students that it’s okay to take a step back,” said sophomore swimmer Cara Bognar.

The Day Off Social campaign operates in parallel with several other DIA mental health initiatives designed to support Illinois student-athletes, including the “I Matter” campaign and the Bandana Project.

“I have seen firsthand some of the effects of social media on our student-athletes, and I am proud that so many of our young men and women are acting as leaders in addressing this issue publicly,” said Josh Whitman, Director of Athletics. “Our appreciation goes to both Day Off Social and Illini Guardians for this important effort.”