Sports hydration company BioSteel is diving into college basketball sponsorship for the first time, starting with a handful of season-opening tournaments over the next few weeks.
BioSteel will be an official sponsor of “Bubbleville,” a series of tip-off tournaments scheduled to be held at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut from Nov. 25 to Dec. 5. Bubbleville will feature 45 games in 11 days and include three of the best men’s teams in the country—No. 2 Baylor, No. 3 Villanova and No. 4 Virginia.
It’s all part of a larger relationship between BioSteel and Learfield IMG College, which represents hundreds of athletic departments, conferences and college properties. BioSteel will also sponsor the Hall of Fame Classic next week in Kansas City, and become the official sports drink of the Atlantic 10 Conference as well as the athletic departments of Northern Illinois University and the University of North Dakota.
The announcement comes just a few weeks after BioSteel secured a handful of distribution deals that will give it coverage across almost all of the U.S. Co-founder and co-CEO Michael Cammalleri said the NCAA push is designed to both support that distribution, and give the company a bigger presence in the billion-dollar college sports market.
“The athletes, the teams and the coaches—everyone is becoming more knowledgeable when it comes to hydration, nutrition and health and wellness,” said Cammalleri, who played 15 seasons in the NHL. “You’re able to get to the audience of younger athletes who are maybe even more impressionable than the pros, and set them off on the right habits.”
BioSteel will be distributed to athletes on the sideline and in locker rooms at both the Hall of Fame Classic and Bubbleville. The company’s logo will be on coolers, cups and bottles, plus on seatbacks and digital signs around the arena, making it visible to those watching games across ESPN and Fox Sports networks.
These multi-pronged national sales deals are a hallmark of Learfield IMG College, which was created in 2018 through the combination of Atairos-owned Learfield and Endeavor-owned IMG College. The group represents the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which is producing Bubbleville, and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which organizes the Hall of Fame Classic. It also has multimedia rights to the Atlantic 10, Northern Illinois and North Dakota.
Founded in 2009 as a sports drink built specifically for pro athletes, BioSteel is majority-owned by Canopy Growth, a cannabis and hemp company. NFL stars Patrick Mahomes and DeAndre Hopkins are both equity investors. The company also has deals with the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets.