Due to the changes in NIL rules for college athletes, there has been a boom in the past 14 days with NCAA student athletes partnering and sponsoring.
For about one day, Dante Harris, sophomore point guard and tournament MVP for the reigning BIG EAST Tournament Champion Georgetown Hoyas, identified he was partnering with Barstool before removing the social media text and refuting the reports.
I am not signed with no company!!— Dante Harris ߙ (@dante_Harris3) July 12, 2021
That hasn’t stopped a handful of other Georgetown athletes—none from basketball, as far as we can tell—who have apparently linked up with Barstool Athletics this month.
The question is, what does being a Barstool Athlete mean? If you believe Barstool president Dave “One Bite” Portnoy, they have no idea.
Barstool Athletes Inc is the most barstool thing ever. No thought put into it. No clue what we were doing. And 2 hours later the most powerful student athlete organization in the country. Still no clue what’s happening. #fortheplayers #barstoolathlete— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) July 1, 2021
At best, it appears to be a marketing network right now, but who knows if direct partnerships or promotions will come from being a “Barstool Athlete.”
There will likely be a few speed bumps but Barstool seems like an interesting opportunity for self-promotion.
Barstool has since set up an online application for interested athletes. By July 3, Portnoy had sent an email message to those players accepted into the Barstool Athletics program. In the message, obtained by Golfweek, Portnoy noted that Barstool had received “literally 75,000 or so applications we are going through.” It had dedicated 15 people to the task. Portnoy also assured athletes that Barstool was not asking for signed contracts or exclusivity, but there are few specifics beyond that. The object is to help athletes amplify their own brands.
It’s easy to become a Barstool Athlete. College athletes fill out an online application and they’ll eventually be announced by @StoolAthletics. When Halverson announced her partnership, her following exploded overnight, and now the marketing senior is being contacted about multiple partnerships.
The problem, Lust said, is that Barstool Sports could get athletes in trouble. That’s because many schools or states do not allow athletes to partner with alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and gambling companies. Penn National, a company that owns and operates casinos and hotels across the country, has a 36-percent stake in Barstool Sports, which also has its own sportsbook.
Some have noted that Barstool’s new intent-to-use trademark status may appropriately segregate the gambling side from the athlete-promotion side. Apparently, Barstool “plans” to make podcasts.
The question will still be whether gambling permeates the “Barstool” brand such that being legally different entities won’t necessarily end the debate. It’s school specific… it’s state specific. For athletes, just keep your head up and don’t blindly assume ANY DEAL is safe.— Dan Lust (@SportsLawLust) July 11, 2021
However, a quick-and-dirty filing for an application for intent to use a TM is a far cry from a firm business plan.
As a former college swimmer, this blog contributor likely would have quickly signed up. But as a current IP attorney and sometimes-volunteer-coach (no legal advice here), I’d recommend to my former self more of a wait-and-see approach.