Equipped with a new policy, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) encouraged a flood of Cal Poly athletes to sign with Barstool Sports.
On June 30, the NCAA adopted a new policy surrounding name, image and likeness rules, which allowed college athletes to receive money, gifts and other items from companies. This was previously outlawed by the association.
A day later, Barstool Sports founder and self-professed “El Presidente,” Dave Portnoy, put out a video via Instagram announcing the launch of Barstool Athletics.
“If you play division one sports and blink at me, we’ll sign you,” Portnoy said in the Instagram video. “What do you want: merch, pizza, come to parties for free? You name it.”
Barstool Sports is a digital media company that was created in 2003 with a focus on sports and pop-culture. Centered in New York City, Barstool Sports is one of the most popular faces of sports media. For 18 years, the company has been creating content such as podcasts, blogs and social media posts catered to sports fans.
The brand new extension to the media and gambiling company came as thousands of student athletes across the country wanted to sign.
Barstool is very prevalent on college campuses, amassing over 29.5 million followers across their main Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok accounts and millions more following other affiliated Barstool pages.
“I like the whole Barstool Corporation, so that’s what drew me to them,” senior on the women’s golf team Madi Daniel said.
Redshirt freshman wrestler Daniel Vizcarra was the first to sign to Barstool Athletics. Following Vizcarra was sophomore wrestler Trent Tracy, sophomore baseball player Joe Yorke, redshirt sophomore football player Judea Moon, freshman softball player Jessica Clements and over fifteen other Cal Poly athletes.
When asked about his thought process while applying, Vizcarra said he thought “Screw it, I’m just going to apply and see what happens.”
The application included sending a photo of yourself in a Cal Poly jersey, and signing various legal documentation required by Barstool for that photo to be used on all their accounts. When athletes are accepted and given the “Barstool Athlete” title, they are then required to tag the Barstool Athletics account on Instagram in their personal bio.
“I honestly didn’t really expect to get it, but it was pretty cool when it happened,” Vizcarra said. “The process was easy and simple.”
Once accepted, all of the athletes were sent limited edition Barstool Athlete merchandise: a t-shirt, sweatshirt and sweatpants, as well as discounted prices on other items at the Barstool store.
Freshman cross country runner Nathan Babby signed with Barstool in the summer, and was somewhat disappointed with what the company has done for their signees.
“It’s not a whole lot,” Babby said. “It’s just I get some free clothes to wear around.”
Barstool Athlete is reportedly looking to upgrade the perks for their signed athletes. Currently, an “Athlete Card” is being developed for Barstool signees. According to Vizcarra, the card will potentially supply discounts to outside companies and fast food restaurants such as Chiptole.
“Everything else is still in the works,” Daniel said. “It’s really fresh for them and for us, so they’re kind of maneuvering through all of their rules and regulations.”
Daniel, Vizcarra and Babby said they are happy with signing to Barstool and are looking to use it as a stepping stool to gain more sponsorships.
Vizcarra is also signed to the company Liquid I.V. and wants to strike a deal with San Luis Obispo’s own MG Supplements.
“I reached out to MG Supplements and he said he would be down to sponsor me,” Vizcarra said. “So I’m definitely going to reach out again and see what’s up with that.”
Meanwhile, Babby said he is looking to make more deals in the future as he matures into a ranked runner and starts to gain more notoriety.
“Being a freshman, I’m not going to be in the championship races this year, so the spotlight isn’t on me,” Babby said. “[But] if the opportunity arises where I could get a sponsorship, I would jump on it in a heartbeat”
Daniel said she is working on getting the word out on her own, as she hopes to gain local sponsorships as well.
“I’m definitely interested in getting some local SLO companies on my bag,” Daniel said. “Barstool is such a big corporation that them posting me and promoting me can get me a lot of other opportunities.”