On July 1, 2021, college athletics changed forever, sparking the start of "something of a free-for-all". In a monumental shift for the NCAA, athletes can now begin to accept endorsements for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL) while still competing for their university.
Of course, one of the first organizations to jump on this is the ever-so-controversial Barstool Sports, a media company associated with athletics and sports betting (as well as pop culture and other media phenomenons).
Barstool founder Dave Portnoy offered that college athletes could sign on as a Barstool athlete and, in exchange, receive Barstool-branded merchandise.
Thousands of college athletes are now considered "Barstool Athletes" and label the name in their social media bio.
But what does it entail? Even founder Portnoy is not so sure. After giving permission to Barstool to use their name, image and likeness on any Barstool platform or channel, the athletes have potential to gain some notoriety through the popular sports media channel.
"Barstool has an enormous and committed fanbase in the college crowd," marketer Brendan Menapace writes. "And Portnoy is nothing if not an expert on drawing attention to himself and his brand (whether good or bad), so athletes can rest assured that there's a good chance they get notoriety that otherwise might have been difficult."
In general, college athletes have always struggled to present a level playing field of popularity and coverage across different sports, and changing the NIL regulations is a step in the right direction to give athletes the recognition they deserve. Students may now accept sponsorships and partner with companies to make money as athletes.
This is not the first organizational movement that Barstool Sports has begun. During the COVID-19 pandemic, founder Portnoy began the Barstool Fund, developed to raise money for struggling small businesses that were in risk of losing their business to the pandemic.
All in all, the athletic organization is at least a form of action in hoping to benefit student-athletes around the country. Now, where it goes from here is what we will have to wait and see.