The leader of the Arizona Bowl, which this summer signed Barstool Sports as the game’s title sponsor, said Friday that her organization was “monitoring the situation” following a Business Insider report alleging sexual misconduct by Barstool founder Dave Portnoy.
In response to an email query from Sportico, Kym Adair, who has served as the Arizona Bowl’s executive director since 2018, declined to comment further. In July, as Sportico first reported, Barstool Sports struck a deal with the Tucson, Ariz.-based bowl game for both its exclusive naming and broadcast rights.
On Thursday, Portnoy posted a pair of videos to Twitter denying the allegations laid out in the Business Insider story, which detailed the experiences of two women who described sexual encounters with Portnoy as violent and humiliating.
The Arizona Bowl, which features teams from the Mountain West and Mid-Atlantic conferences, is scheduled for Dec. 31 at Arizona Stadium. Spokespeople from those conferences did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Ali Farhang, the Arizona Bowl’s co-founder and chairman of the board.
On the day of the bowl game announcement, Portnoy tweeted out an “emergency press conference” from Tucson, in which he extolled the Arizona Bowl as Barstool’s “unicorn.”
“We control everything,” Portnoy said, “the bowl, the broadcast, the half-time show, the national anthem. We are getting into the live sports broadcast game. The moon is a little bit closer. We have been trying, trying, trying. Thank you to the Arizona Bowl.”
Some backlash immediately followed the announcement, as the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to back out of its previous $38,156 commitment to the bowl game. In pulling the funding, the five-member board specifically cited a “series of inflammatory statements and tweets” that had been made by Portnoy, including a 2010 tweet which, given its most charitable interpretation, made light of rape.
Prior to the board’s vote, Adair had sent the members a letter downplaying Portnoy’s and Barstool’s history of controversy as entailing only “two to three moments … that their critics will use to highlight.” Adair further contended that it was the Arizona Bowl’s determination Barstool had since “evolved into a better version of itself.”
Steve Kozachik, a Tucson city councilman who previously worked in the University of Arizona athletic department, also publicly criticized the Arizona Bowl-Barstool deal, writing in an email newsletter that Portnoy “brings to Tucson and the University of Arizona campus a history of being unapologetic for the racist and sexist language he has used in the past.”