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NBA owner ends big-money college NIL deal

By Sean Keane,

Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia

New Suns owner Mat Ishbia is a big supporter of Michigan State, but he'll no longer support individual athletes financially.

Ishbia and his company, United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM), started a name-and-image licensing program for athletes at Michigan State University. Members of the men's basketball, football and volleyball teams could earn $700 per month for social media posts about UWM. These were teamwide deals, not limited to star players.

Now that's ending.

The company sent a letter to MSU players explaining, "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."

It's not clear who asked Ishbia and UWM to discontinue the program.

Ishbia was a walk-on guard for the MSU basketball program, winning a national title in 2000. Since Ishbia's mortgage wholesale company went public , making Ishbia a billionaire, he's donated almost $50 million to Michigan State athletics.

There could be a perceived conflict of interest with Phoenix and Spartans players who could feel indebted to Ishbia after financial support in college. In a league that's always concerned with tampering , Ishbia may simply be doing his due diligence to avoid impropriety.

Why did he also cut off the NIL money to football and volleyball players? Perhaps he's worried about the next Chase Budinger, a former NBA player turned pro beach volleyball player, or a two-sport star like Tony Gonzalez. Either way, it's a bummer for the athletes at Michigan State.

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