Mat Ishbia’s generosity toward his alma mater continues, albeit not without some critics.
The president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage was a member of the 2000 national championship basketball team at Michigan State and already has donated millions to the entire athletic department, including $20 million to the football program.
On Wednesday, Ishbia’s company announced it will be sponsoring members of Michigan State’s football and men’s basketball teams — 133 student-athletes — by providing those players with $500 a month for the entire 2021-22 school year.
“The Spartan family sticks together, and that’s what makes MSU athletics so special,” Ishbia said in a statement. “Each player contributes to the team in a positive way and we’re excited to help support them, while also helping educate consumers about the benefits of independent mortgage brokers.”
The sponsorship is allowed now that student-athletes are allowed to profit off their name, image and likeness. It’s the second deal in the past week involving Michigan State athletes as the Jolly Pumpkin Café & Brewery in East Lansing announced it is sponsoring the Michigan State offensive line and long snappers.
While Ishbia is taking some criticism on social media for not including any women’s teams in his recent move, the fact the deal is not being organized by the university means there are no Title IX violations.
Two Michigan state representatives, Mari Manoogian of Birmingham and Laurie Pohutsky of Livonia, both Democrats, blasted Ishbia and UWM in a statement Wednesday night.
“In 2021, this sort of blatant sexism is unacceptable,” Pohutsky said in the statement. “All athletes, regardless of their gender, should have the same opportunities and be invested in.”
Said Manoogian, also in the statement: “It’s incredibly disappointing and downright shocking that United Wholesale Mortgage chose to exclude talented female student-athletes at Michigan State University from being eligible for the $500 per month that members of the football and men’s basketball teams will be receiving for this coming academic year.”
In February, Ishbia, who was a walk-on member of Tom Izzo’s championship team, donated $32 million to MSU athletics, the largest single cash commitment in MSU’s history from an individual. The largest portion of the Ishbia commitment — $20 million — will go toward the football program, providing resources to construct a performance zone in an expansion of the Skandalaris Football Center. Another $2 million is creating the Spartans For Life Fund focused on leadership and career development to serve as a springboard to help all student-athletes find employment after graduation and to assist with life-long career opportunities.