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$500 Stipend for MSU Athletes Criticized Over Gender Equity

Contributor: Connor O'Neal

A monthly stipend to Michigan State University sports teams is being criticized for not including female athletes.

Funds from United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) are being directed to MSU Men’s Basketball and Football.

The sponsorship deal between UWM and MSU athletes gives athletes a $500 monthly stipend in return for social media promotion from the players. The deal includes the 2021-2022 season, totaling $6,000 per athlete.

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“We’re really thankful for that and we’re looking forward to seeing what comes of all this,” Michigan State sophomore starting quarterback Payton Thorne told MLive. “It’s definitely a good thing moving forward.”

While the deal has been generally well received by the athletes, it has generated some criticism from Democrat politicians.

State representatives Laurie Pohutsky and Mari Manoogian, Democrats, tweeted a critique of the agreement calling it “blatant sexism.”

UN Women replied to a tweet by the legislators saying it's “high time” for equal pay and “generation equality.”

According to MLive, Pohutsky, chair of the Michigan Progressive Women’s Caucus, stated “It’s beyond disappointing to see that United Wholesale Mortgage is only investing in male athletes. In 2021, this sort of blatant sexism is unacceptable. All athletes, regardless of their gender, should have the same opportunities and be invested in.”

Manoogian, a former MSU club figure skater, is calling on UWM to expand the scope of the sponsorship to include other athletes outside of the football and men’s basketball teams.

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UWM’s spokesman said the company is exploring sponsoring every MSU athlete. However, previous relationships with the MSU football and men’s basketball teams allowed for quicker sponsorship deals with those athletes. Meeting with each athlete individually would take greater complexity.

“This is new to everyone and we are continuing to explore additional MSU teams, but we are going to walk before we run with this,” the statement read. “This is the first step to understand the [Name, image, and likeness] process, and we’re always looking at different ways we can help out Spartan student athletes.”

MSU Men's Basketball Team

As part of the deal with UWM, participating MSU athletes made posts on their social media accounts promoting the company.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association changed its policy regarding name, image, and likeness (NIL) rules on July 1, 2021, allowing college athletes within the association to profit from their fame. The move came about after multiple states passed laws allowing college athletes to receive compensation. A unanimous ruling by the US Supreme Court solidified these new laws.

Many companies are still only just starting to experiment with compensation for college athletes. The process for making deals to compensate college athletes is a new experience for the companies going through with it, with difficulties along the way a common occurrence.

The NCAA’s new NIL rules are still very recent with companies like UWM paving the way for other companies to sponsor college athletes in the future.

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