Phoenix Suns Owner Mat Ishbia Ends NIL Deal With Alma Mater Michigan State

The Phoenix Suns announced on Friday that they were hiring former Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel to replace the recently fired Monty Williams. While that move may come as a surprise to some, what new owner Mat Ishbia also did on Friday will have an effect on the athletic program at his alma mater Michigan State.

In a letter sent to the school, Ishbia who along with his brother Justin became majority owners of the Suns and Phoenix Mercury, have decided to end their NIL partnership with Michigan State. The move which will effect the Spartans’ football, basketball and volleyball teams will come to an end on June 30. 

Ishbia Ends Deal To Avoid Conflict Of Interest

In a written letter to the Big Ten power, Ishbia, a walk-on member of head basketball coach Tom Izzo’s only national championship winning squad in 2000, and his company United Wholesale Mortgage said this. 

“As an owner of two professional sports teams,  it was asked that Mat/UWM discontinue this NIL partnership to avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interest,” according to the letter. 

In response to Ishbia and UWM terminating it’s deal with the Spartans, school spokesperson Matt Larson mentioned that the school itself didn’t ask him to end the deal. 

“Michigan State athletics is deeply appreciative of Mat Ishbia’s continued support for our department and sports programs,” Larson said in a statement. “Through his gifts, he provides resources for student-athletes, including state-of-the-art facilities and a transformational Spartans for Life Fund which assists with career development and life after athletics.”

Ishbia has donated nearly $50 million to the school since 2020. That’s in addition to the NIL deals that paid student-athletes up to $700 per month for social media posts focusing on his company, UWM. 

Maybe he felt pressure from somewhere else now that he owns an NBA and WNBA franchise. But the school is adamant that they weren’t the ones to end the deal. 

Ishbia Made News During NBA Playoffs

During Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals between Ishbia’s Suns team and the Denver Nuggets, Ishbia ended up in a little altercation with Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic. The incident that took place was over Jokic trying to get the basketball to get his team on the attack, but Ishbia and other wouldn’t let the ball go, then came the embellishment of Jokic bumping him and he falls back. 

Jokic received a technical foul and was fined $25,000 for his actions, while Ishbia, who clearly flopped, walked away unscathed from a fine or anything. 

The two laughed it out prior to Game 5, putting an end to any gripe they may have had.

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