Naming rights agreements have seen a steady creep into collegiate athletics for decades, but rare — and in the case of major college athletics, unprecedented — is the deal that ties sponsorship directly to individual teams. Enter the MSU Spartans Presented by Rocket Mortgage.
On Thursday, the nation's largest mortgage lender announced a massive expansion of its six-year-old relationship with Michigan State University athletics. According to a release on the MSU athletics website, Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage, an offshoot of Quicken Loans, will have "unparalleled visibility and branding" via a variety of Spartan athletic teams — including men's and women's basketball, football and hockey — starting in the 2021-2022 athletic season.
"Michigan State Athletics couldn't compete at the highest levels without the support of our corporate partners like Rocket Mortgage," said Michigan State director of athletics Bill Beekman. "We are appreciative of Rocket's continued commitment to the Spartans and their unwavering support of our programs."
The new five-year deal secures considerable branding for Rocket Mortgage throughout the Breslin Center and Spartan Stadium, which will be highly visible to TV audiences. The integrations include multiple static and digital placements throughout the university's athletic facilities, branding on the MSU men's and women's basketball team bench and clipboards, and logos prominently displayed on football coach Mel Tucker's – making the company synonymous with Spartan athletics, according to the MSU release.
In addition, Rocket Mortgage will have a strong presence in the radio programming for Michigan State's men's basketball, women's basketball, football and hockey games.
"Michigan State Football wishes to thank Rocket Mortgage for their continued support, not only of our program, but for their overall support for intercollegiate athletics," Tucker said. "It's important for championship teams to have championship companies behind them, and Rocket has been a champion for our program for years and will be well into the future."
Rocket Mortgage has been a partner and sponsor of Michigan State Athletics since 2015. Founder and CEO Dan Gilbert, and MSU alum, is the namesake of The Gilbert Pavilion at the Breslin Center. In 2016, he and wife Jennifer contributed $15 million to Michigan State. The gift went toward Breslin Center improvements, the university's Detroit Scholars Program and the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities.
"Rocket Mortgage has been a valued partner for years with Michigan State and we are excited that they are continuing to support our program into the future," said Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo. "As presenting sponsor of our season, their presence will be an asset as we compete for championships."
Michigan State did not indicate what dollar value the expanded agreement represents. According to Forbes, Gilbert is worth $52.1 billion.