The University of Michigan announced Wednesday that the football team’s defensive coordinator position will be endowed as the Matthew and Nicole Lester Family Football Defensive Coordinator.
“We are exceptionally grateful to Matthew and Nicole for this unique gift to the University of Michigan,” director of athletics Warde Manuel said in a news release. “The Lester family is part of a strong group of donors and alumni that are passionate about this university.
“Great relationships can lead to these outcomes, and it is our student-athletes who will continue to benefit for years to come. Gifts like this make it possible for us to attract and retain the best coaches and students who participate in athletics.”
The defensive coordinator position is held by Don Brown, who is in his second year of coaching with the Wolverines.
“In speaking with Matt [Lester], his passion for the defensive side of football is clear, and that enthusiasm excites me as a coach,” Brown said. “I am proud to have my position as defensive coordinator named after the Lester family, and I look forward to furthering my relationship with Matt, Nicole and their family in the years to come.”
Lester is a 1987 Michigan graduate who worked as an attorney and litigator. He also founded a private real estate investment company. He and his wife, Nicole, live with their daughter Elliah and son Asa in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Lester said his family has supported Wolverines football for more than 50 years, and that his father, Dr. Melvin Lester, is a Michigan grad and a founding member of the Victors Club.
Lester said it’s essential to give back to the university that’s influenced his family.
“I was raised to believe that Michigan football matters,” Lester said. “Not just the results on the field, but also the prestige and prominence it lends to the University of Michigan. More importantly, I believe Michigan football has the potential to teach life lessons to the student-athletes who play and to those of us who follow them.
“If this is true, and I believe it is, then it is the coaches who deserve our support because they are the ones who teach these young athletes both on and off the field.”
Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh weighed in on the endowment.
“This gift represents a long-standing commitment by the Lester family to the University of Michigan and football program and we have so much appreciation for their generosity,” Harbaugh said. “This gesture will have a great impact on the coaches and student-athletes who represent our team.”
As for the defense, Brown led the unit to some impressive rankings in his first year leading the unit. Overall, he has 35 years of coaching experience, including 22 as a defensive coordinator.
Brown is the Big Ten’s highest-paid assistant coach. His 2016 salary was $880,000.