‘Blatant sexism’: State lawmakers demand equity for female Michigan State University athletes

Female athletes not included in $500 per month scholarship provided by United Wholesale Mortgage

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - MARCH 22: Nia Clouden #24 of the Michigan State Spartans controls the ball against the Iowa State Cyclones during the first half in the first round game of the 2021 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at the Alamodome on March 22, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) (Carmen Mandato, 2021 Getty Images)

Two Michigan lawmakers are taking issue with female college athletes being excluded from a $500 per month athletics scholarship available for all members of Michigan State University’s Spartans football and men’s basketball teams.

United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) announced Wednesday the sponsorship deal with the university that will give 133 student athletes $500 monthly stipends. All of them are male student athletes.

State Reps. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), who is chair of the Michigan Progressive Women’s Caucus, and Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham), a former Michigan State club figure skater, released statements demanding equity for female student athletes at the school.

“It’s beyond disappointing to see that United Wholesale Mortgage is only investing in MSU’s male athletes,” said Rep. Pohutsky. “In 2021, this sort of blatant sexism is unacceptable. All athletes, regardless of their gender, should have the same opportunities and be invested in.”

The UWM scholarship was enabled due to a recent change in Michigan law that allows college student-athletes to profit from their names, images, and likenesses (NIL). It is not directly affiliated with or managed through the university or its athletics program.

“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 at Michigan State University from being eligible for the $500 per month that members of the football and men’s basketball teams will be receiving for this coming academic year,” said Rep. Manoogian. “UWM’s leadership should expand this opportunity to athletes who play on teams that are not all-male.”

UWM responded to these statements with the following:

“We explored sponsoring all 900 MSU athletes, however, because NIL partnerships are done directly with each student athlete, not through the university or athletic department, every single agreement is one-to-one. We have rooted relationships with the men’s basketball program as well as football that allowed us to complete these agreements faster and more efficiently. 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. This was the first step to understand the NIL process, and we’re always looking at different ways we can help out Spartan student athletes. We are a leader so we are hoping other businesses will come in to support additional teams and athletes at MSU. Hopefully we’ve paved the path of how this can be done if you want a way to support Michigan State athletes.”

UWM spokesperson

Read more: Michigan State football, men’s basketball players to get $500 monthly stipend in sponsorship deal