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Why is Mat Ishbia ending NIL sponsorship with Michigan State?

There’s a legit reason for this.

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Mat Ishbia
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mat Ishbia ended his NIL sponsorship with Michigan State athletics on Friday and there’s a good reason why that happened.

It has been just under four months since the NBA approved Mat Ishbia’s bid to become the majority owner of the Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Since then, a lot has changed for the former Michigan State walk-on.

According to a press release on Friday, Ishbia is now ending his NIL agreement with the Spartan Athletic Department.

After the Name, Imagine, and Likeness regulations were placed in effect back in 2021, Ishbia’s company, United Wholesale Mortgage, quickly announced a deal to be the first of its kind. The new program was to pay MSU student-athletes on the football team and men’s basketball teams $700 per month. In exchange for the money, athletes would send out social media posts advertising UWM. It expanded last fall to include volleyball players as well. This was to be used as a recruiting tool. It would show that MSU’s NIL programs would be competitive nationally and convince athletes to attend.

Spartan fans have speculated that the deal could have to be terminated now that Ishbia has taken over in Phoenix. That turned out to be the case. In a letter sent today, UWM stated, “As an owner of two professional sports teams, it was asked that Mat/UWM discontinue this NIL partnership to avoid any actual or perceived conflicts of interest.”

Since 2020, Mat has been Michigan State’s largest public donor. He has committed almost $50 million to the Spartan Athletic Department on top of these NIL programs. These funds have been used in remodeling/expanding athletic buildings, funded the construction of the new Tom Izzo Football Building, and helped get Mel Tucker’s 10-year, $95 million contract extension finalized. His money has also helped build the “Spartans for Life Fund” which assists with career development and life after athletics.

Mat was a walk-on for the MSU Basketball team under Tom Izzo back in 1999. He did win a national championship with Izzo. Mat often credits his time on the team for teaching him skills needed to excel in the professional world. He became the CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage in 2013 and brought the company public in 2021 making him a billionaire. He submitted his bid to the NBA for the Phoenix Suns/Phoenix Mercury in December 2022. That bid ended up being approved and finalized for $4 billion.

MSU thanked Mat Ishbia in a statement today released from the athletic department. They said they are “deeply appreciative” of his continued support for the department and credited him for all the transformations above. UWM stated they and Mat will “continue to remain dedicated to supporting Michigan State University and their athletic programs and will continue to do so within the guardrails established.”

Dad, die hard MSU (and Detroit sports) fan, and writer for Spartan Shadows. Certified knower of Ball (and puck). MSU Content Creator since 2022. Central Michigan Alum!

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