In a resolute stand against what he deems as the tepid response to rising anti-Semitism on some of America’s most hallowed grounds, David Portnoy, the firebrand founder of Barstool Sports, has issued a ban on hiring graduates from three prestigious institutions: Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania. A caveat to this edict favors Jewish students and retains two Harvard-educated members already part of the Barstool family. This striking pronouncement came on the heels of congressional testimony that saw the presidents of the aforementioned universities evade definitive censure of anti-Israel sentiment on their campuses.
During the proceedings, each of the university leaders hesitated to outright denounce pro-Hamas demonstrations that included calls for the eradication of the Israeli state and the genocide of Jewish people, following the terrorist attacks in Israel on October 7. This lack of clear denunciation has led to uproar, and many, including Portnoy, demand decisive action.
Portnoy, appearing on Fox Business, argued for the distinction between free speech and harmful hate speech, stressing the need for common sense to prevail when speech endangers individuals. Liz Magill of Penn has since resigned, though she remains entrenched within the institution’s infrastructure. Meanwhile, Harvard President Claudine Gay has seen an outpouring of internal support despite controversy and allegations of plagiarism.
The ripples of Portnoy’s bold statement have not fully traversed the gaming community, and as of now, no operators have matched his embargo on hiring graduates from these institutions. Nevertheless, Dr. Miriam Adelson, a significant figure in the gaming industry, has also expressed stringent opposition to Hamas supporters in a recent op-ed.
Portnoy extended his challenge via social media, implicating a worrying trajectory within Ivy League academia and urging other companies to reject applications from those universities until there is a changeover of their deans. His Instagram post minced no words in condemning silence on what he perceives as calls for mass violence, irrespective of Jewish affiliation or otherwise.
A vocal commentator, Portnoy’s outspoken nature is no new narrative. Earlier in the year, he took aim at Silicon Valley Bank for its failures, which he attributed to its ‘woke’ policy. Furthermore, following the controversial Supreme Court decision regarding Roe v. Wade, he did not hold back his critical view.
Portnoy remains firm in his conviction that failing to condemn calls for genocide against Jews is an untenable position for any educational leader. He underscores that such silence is not just an oversight but an affront to those who would be targeted by such extremist views, including his own family and heritage.