Dave Portnoy, the founder of the Barstool Sports brand, will speak to UF students in a free virtual event April 15.
On Friday, Accent Speakers Bureau, a student-run organization funded by UF Student Government, announced the event on Facebook. The show will begin at 6 p.m., and anyone with a valid UFL email address can sign up.
Portnoy, who has stirred controversy over the years for sexist and racist comments, was originally scheduled to speak last Spring; however, the show was canceled when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down campus in March.
He has been recorded using racist language such as the N-word and calling former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick “an ISIS guy” and “a terrorist,” according to Variety. A 2018 Daily Beast article also reported Portnoy used misogynistic and insensitive language toward women.
Portnoy began Barstool Sports in 2003 as a free newspaper in Boston, according to Forbes. Now, the brand produces a wide range of multimedia, including blogs, podcasts and social media posts. In 2020, it was worth $450 million, according to Wall Street Journal.
Will Salberg, a 21-year-old UF finance junior, said he is excited to learn more about Portnoy’s business development.
“I think it is really impressive how he built the company from rags to riches,” he said. “I would like to hear him talk about his business tips he has learned along the way that he thinks would be helpful for other people.”
Salberg said he mostly follows Portnoy for his sports commentary and wasn’t aware of any of the racist and misogynist comments he has made.
Portnoy is also known for rating pizza restaurants on Instagram. Salberg would like to ask him about the best pizza he’s tried and any recommendations in the North Central Florida area.
Accent Chair Steven Wolf did not respond to emails asking why Accent decided to hire Portnoy nor how choosing Portnoy as a speaker was in the interest of the Student Body.
Wolf also did not respond to emails asking how much Portnoy will be paid for the event. Commission for Accent speakers comes from student fees. The Alligator submitted a public records request for Portnoy’s contract.
Over 300 students expressed interest in attending the event as of April 11, according to the Facebook page.
Chayston Brown, an 18-year-old UF biology freshman, was shocked and disappointed to find out Portnoy will speak to students. She said hosting someone who has made such offensive comments sets a wrong example for students that it is okay to behave that way.
“I don't want to be supporting a college that supports people like this,” she said. “I look equally as bad because I feel like it seems like I support this person coming in.”
Contact Carolina Ilvento and Meghan McGlone at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Follow them on Twitter @CarolinaIlvento and @meggmcglone.
Meghan McGlone is a UF junior majoring in journalism and English, and this year she’s the City and County Commission reporter. In past years, she’s served as the University Editor, the Student Government reporter, and other positions. Her favorite past time is eating gummy worms and reading a good book.
Carolina is a second-year journalism major with a minor in sustainability. In the past, she covered stories and events for WUFT, and she is now reporting on Student Government for The Alligator. Carolina loves to do yoga and go to the beach whenever she isn't writing.