UWM’s Ishbia Offers Stipends To Female Athletes A Year After Men’s Program

Last year, United Wholesale Mortgage CEO Mat Ishbia raised eyebrows when he promised generous stipends to 133 Michigan State University men’s basketball and football players. 

Ishbia paid each player, regardless of position, $500 per month in exchange for marketing UWM on their social media pages.

NCAA athletes had long been banned from receiving such payments while playing college sports. But the conference changed its player compensation rules last year to allow student-athletes to sign endorsement deals on their own Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL). MSU players will receive a $500 monthly payment for a total of $6,000 over the year, regardless of position.

While fans of MSU’s men’s sports cheered the move, Ishbia faced backlash from critics over the exclusion of women’s sports teams. Two Democratic Michigan state reps released a joint statement decrying the “lack of gender parity in UWM’s investment in MSU’s athletes,” which pays stipends to male athletes but not females.

A year later, UWM is bringing women’s sports into the fold.

The company announced an expansion of its NIL deal, which now includes the women’s basketball and volleyball teams. It will also continue its sponsorship of the men’s basketball and football teams for the 2022-2023 season.

The sponsorship will now pay up to $700 per month “pending the completion of social media promotional posts assigned by UWM,” the company said in a press release.

“The NIL deals we made last year with MSU’s men’s basketball and football players was one of the first and largest deals at the time. We wanted to get our feet wet and test it out, and we’re happy we did as the success has been more than expected,” said Ishbia.

“We’re excited to expand this opportunity to all of the athletes on the women’s basketball and volleyball teams and are eager to see the influence they have on educating consumers about career opportunities at UWM and the benefits of working with an independent mortgage broker.”

NIL payments do not go through universities.

It is a direct payment to an athlete for their NIL rights, which the university has no say or involvement in, which has exempted Ishbia’s stipends this last year from Title IX considerations.

Though advocates for gender equity in women’s sports may be heartened by this development, UWM faces backlash from other areas, too.

Last year’s financial commitments caused a stir among current and former employees. Complaints about the company’s work culture have been documented in recent years, and some felt the stipends were in poor taste against the backdrop of unhappy, underpaid employees.

“Welp, that’s where all that money went. [Expletive] UWM,” one employee posted on social media.

Former employee Annie Haberlein, an account executive who worked for United Wholesale Mortgage from October 2020 until March 2021, has sued. She claims some hourly workers are forced to put in more than 40 hours a week, but company policies and practices prevent them from filing for overtime.

Employee complaints about UWM’s work culture are not new. In a 2019 essay, writer Mo Ismail claimed to be a former worker at the company and, like more recent claims, said UWM pushed its employees to work harder for less pay. Ismail also alleged an HR rep divulged a private conversation to his division leader. He ultimately departed for UWM rival QuickenLoans.