As part of a newly-announced five-year deal between Michigan State and Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage, the two sides announced Thursday that the Spartans basketball program will henceforth be referred to as "MSU Spartans Presented by Rocket Mortgage at the Breslin Center, its home court. No, this is not a joke.
The deal will take place starting in the 2021-2022 athletic season. It comes with naming rights for the basketball team and "considerable branding for Rocket Mortgage throughout the Breslin Center and Spartan Stadium," according to the announcement. It also includes branding throughout athletic facilities, branding on the men's and women's basketball team bench and clipboards, and logos "prominently" displayed on the headset of football coach Mel Tucker.
"Michigan State Athletics couldn't compete at the highest levels without the support of our corporate partners like Rocket Mortgage," Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman said. "We are appreciative of Rocket's continued commitment to the Spartans and their unwavering support of our programs."
Rocket Mortgage has been a sponsor of Michigan State since 2015 but the new deal is a "massive expansion" of the longstanding partnership, Michigan State said. The terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
As for how Michigan State secured such a sponsorship opportunity to begin with, it has a prominent connection with alumnus Dan Gilbert -- owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers -- who is the co-founder of Quicken Loans and of Rocket Mortgage. Gilbert is the namesake of The Gilbert Pavilion at the Breslin Center and he famously contributed $15 million to his alma mater in 2016.
"Michigan State University is very important to our company. It is the alma mater of our Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert, me and many team members throughout our organization. We are honored to contribute to the university that has prepared so many of us for success," said Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Mortgage. "It is our hope that our presence in MSU Athletics will make students and athletes more aware of the opportunities for them right here in Detroit with Rocket Mortgage and the many other growing companies in the city."
Sponsorship opportunities in basketball have become more widely accepted in recent years, particularly in the NBA, with teams donning patches on uniforms to prominently display those with financial interests in the teams. But a team agreeing to be renamed -- and at the college level? This is a first-of-its-kind agreement for amateur athletics.