Hawkeyes capitalize in name, image, likeness as Barstool Athletes

After Barstool Sports announced its new business sponsoring NCAA student-athletes, many Hawkeyes jumped at the chance.


Casey Stone

Iowa utility player Sammy Diaz high fives her teammates before the Iowa Softball senior game against Illinois on May 16, 2021 at Bob Pearl Field. Iowa defeated Illinois 4-3.

Chloe Peterson, Summer Sports Editor

Iowa softball sophomore infielder Sammy Diaz has been a Barstool Sports fan for as long as she can remember.

So, when Barstool Sports started a new venture of its business — Barstool Athletes, designed to sponsor and support student-athletes — Diaz jumped at the chance.

“I grew up watching [Barstool founder] Dave Portnoy’s videos,” Diaz said. “He posted something about sponsoring D-I athletes and stuff, and a lot of people had sent it to me, and so I was like, ‘Dude, I gotta do this.’”

Barstool Sports is a digital media and company founded in 2003 — it produces sports and pop culture content through blogs and podcasts. Different Barstool accounts exist for different colleges around the nation, including Barstool Hawkeyes.

Portnoy took advantage of the new NIL rules as he announced the first sponsored Barstool Athlete on July 1.

“OK, so big news out of the NCAA,” Portnoy said in a Twitter video July 1. “Players, [the NCAA] can no longer prevent them from making money off their name, image, all that stuff… Listen, how do you become a Barstool Athlete? If you play Division I sports and you blink at me, we will sign you. We will send you merch, it’ll be custom. You want pizza, we’ll give you pizza.”

The only requirement for a Division I student-athlete to sign with Barstool is that they put “Barstool Athlete” in their Instagram and Twitter biographies.

Under new NCAA guidelines, student-athletes around the country gained the right to profit off their name, image, and likeness on July 1.

Now, NCAA Division I, II, and II athletes can make money through sponsorships, autograph signings, merchandise, and other NIL opportunities.

RELATED: Name, Image, Likeness: a new era for college athletes

“I genuinely think that it’s a really cool experience,” Iowa softball sophomore infielder Denali Loecker said. “You’re not only like a Division I athlete, but like you also have sponsorships and stuff like that. It’s becoming so much more than just the game, I think. You’re obviously working as a softball player, but you’re also working for yourself too, to become more than a softball player.”

After Barstool announced Barstool Athletes Inc. on July 1, the company quickly received a flurry of applications from Division I student-athletes.

“At first, it was just like you’d email [Portnoy], basically saying why you think you would be a Barstool Athlete,” Diaz said. “And then it just blew up, and started being a form instead… me and Denali actually emailed Dave Portnoy ourselves, and I said, ‘I’m a really big fan, like I’ve been watching you for a while, and it would be amazing if I was sponsored by Barstool.’”

Many Hawkeyes have signed up to be Barstool Athletes, including Loecker and Diaz’s teammates, sophomores Grace Banes and Marissa Peek.

Iowa wrestlers Spencer Lee, Alex Marinelli, Michael Kemerer, Max Murin, Jaydin Eierman, Jacob Warner, and Tony Cassioppi have also decided to sign with the business.

With a new business and a lot of clientele in the first two weeks, Barstool isn’t promising much to student-athletes right now.

“We get free merchandise that says Barstool Athlete on it, but I think that’s all that it is right now,” Loecker said. “It’s so new and so many people have signed up for it, so I think we’ll probably just get a t-shirt or something. But I mean, it’s bragging rights to say, ‘I’m a Barstool Athlete.’”

As NIL is still new for the college athletics world, Diaz knows being a Barstool Athlete is only the beginning for other opportunities.

“It can help you a lot by getting other sponsorships too,” Diaz said. “Like if they see, ‘Oh, she’s already sponsored by Barstool’… it’s a head start.”