Michigan State announces new name for Spartans basketball team
In an age where sponsor patches are on every NBA uniform and the Nike swoosh has even hit MLB jerseys, maybe it was only a matter of time before companies started pushing for the actual names of major American sports teams.
Michigan State entered new territory on Thursday by announcing a massive expansion in its endorsement deal with Rocket Mortgage, including a name change for its men’s basketball team on campus.
Yes, rather than call them the Michigan State Spartans, the team will now receive the following treatment in East Lansing’s Breslin Center:
Under the new five-year deal, Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage will be the presenting sponsor of the famed men’s basketball team which will now be known throughout the Breslin Center as, “MSU Spartans Presented by Rocket Mortgage.”
The MSU Spartans Presented by Rocket Mortgage, feel the hype.
Here’s how Tom Izzo reacted to the news through the Spartans:
“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.”
Rocket Mortgage’s relationship with the program comes via the co-founder of its parent company. Quicken Loans chairman Dan Gilbert, who also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, is a graduate of Michigan State and a significant donor to the school.
Obviously, broadcasters and other outlets will, in all likelihood, continue to call them the Spartans going forward, though some Big Ten teams may have a little fun with their rivals’ new title. Still, it’s wild to see a legitimate college basketball team, a power program no less, give up its very name to the advertising gods. Especially since we’re talking about a team ostensibly composed of amateurs.
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first time private businesses have made their way into the names of sports teams. It’s not too rare a practice in soccer, most notably employed by Red Bull to promote its energy drink through the teams it owns (e.g. New York Red Bulls, FC Red Bull Salzburg). Japanese and Korean baseball teams also often feature business in their names (Rakuten Golden Eagles, Kia Tigers).
In all of those cases, however, the business in question actually owns the team rather than giving them millions of dollars to slap their name onto a scoreboard and promotions. In that respect, the MSU Spartans Presented by Rocket Mortgage are doing something akin to a little league team getting some help from a local business.
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