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Volume 26 No. 207
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Sources: Barstool Neared Bowl Sponsorship Before Talks Broke Off

Barstool Sports engaged in deep discussions to title sponsor the annual college football bowl game in Mobile, Ala., but the talks fell apart because of pressure the bowl felt from both the NCAA and ESPN, sources said. A bowl entitlement would have been a first for the brash sports and entertainment outfit, and discussions between Barstool and the bowl advanced enough that they agreed to terms. Mobile was looking to fill a void left by previous title sponsor Dollar General, which exited the deal in May after a three-year run. As negotiations advanced, it became apparent that there were hurdles to clear, one of which came from the language in the contracts that ESPN signed to carry the game. The contract stipulates that a sports media competitor cannot buy a title sponsorship for a game that airs on ESPN. Questions also arose over how the NCAA would react to Barstool Sports as a title sponsor. The NCAA does not technically have veto power over a sponsorship, but bowl games must be certified by the governing body. Barstool’s overall company emphasis on gambling content was a concern, a source said. Once the bowl backed away from Barstool, it moved forward with Charlotte-based LendingTree as title sponsor. The game will feature teams from the MAC and Sun Belt on Jan. 6.