FOX 2 - Mat Ishbia helped the Michigan State Spartans while on the court, and he’s been helping them off of it.
United Wholesale Mortgage CEO Mat Ishbia drew up the perfect play to help MSU athletes cash in on their name, image and likeness. The company will sponsor all men’s basketball and football players with $500 dollar monthly stipends.
In exchange, those players publicize UWM on their social media pages and spread word about the company’s home-lending options.
"The people that follow these athletes are actually going to get a great benefit because they’re going to learn about the mortgage process, (and) the athletes are going to get a great benefit because they’re going to get paid," Ishbia said. "The university gets a great benefit because all these student-athletes are going to be taken care of. Michigan State’s going to get very positive press and positive notoriety around the athletes, and Michigan State takes care of one another. And UWM, my business is going to benefit. So it’s a win-win-win-win."
The move was a fitting one for Ishbia-- an MSU alum and member of the basketball team that won a national title in 2000.
His teammate Mateen Cleaves who now works for the company, met with those student-athletes to get them on-board.
MSU fans and grads we talked with are all for it.
"It’s great. It’s great they’re giving back to the community and getting these kids moving and a head-start on their lives," said one woman.
"The star players and the third-string defensive back is getting the exact same amount, everyone is being taken care of equally," Ishbia said.
But two state lawmakers say that’s not the case when women are not getting those stipends.
State Rep Mari Manoogian - a former MSU club figure skater says:
"Nearly 50 years after Title IX was signed into law, it’s incredibly disappointing and downright shocking that United Wholesale Mortgage chose to exclude talented female student-athletes."
"In 2021, this sort of blatant sexism is unacceptable," said Laurie Phutsky, an MSU alum.
"I originally was looking at how do I do, for all 900 student-athletes (but) the problem being, it’s just very complicated," Ishbia said.
Ishbia says he had to start with what and who he knows.
"It’s not like I called the athletic director and said, ‘Hey we want to sponsor everyone,’ you can’t do that. You have to call each person," he said. "So I know the basketball players, so does Mateen (cleaves), we know the football players we went to them directly, at the same time.
"I’m hoping that we’re the leader and other businesses come in and help women’s cross country or men’s soccer and maybe we come in and we can help women’s basketball or baseball."