Chipotle CEO, wife offer assist to Miami University men’s basketball

Miami University announced Thursday a plan to provide additional financial assistance to members of the RedHawks men’s basketball team.

The school will begin supplementing regular scholarship funds for players in two ways thanks to a $2 million gift from alumni Brian and Jennifer Niccol.

Half of the gift will fund a annual payments of $5,980 to each player who meets academic qualifications and remains eligible while the other half will go into a separate fund that players can tap into after graduating.

“This isn’t just on the court,” Miami director of athletics David Sayler said in a news release. “It’s off the court, too. It’s preparation for life and preparation to tackle whatever career it is that they’re going to go into. Having this gift and allowing them to earn some dollars while they’re here as a student-athlete, it’s just a huge boost for them and a huge opportunity for us to give our student-athletes a chance to be successful.”

Men’s basketball coach Travis Steele indicated the additional funds will help him keep his squad together in an ever-changing college athletics world.

“Continuity is the key to our team’s success,” Steele said in the announcement. “You look across this whole landscape of college athletics and what is happening with the transfer portal, and the question becomes how do you retain your guys?

“This is very big because the name of the game today is retention.”

Credit: David A. Moodie

Credit: David A. Moodie

The annual payment is something colleges are allowed — though not required — to offer athletes following a 2021 United States Supreme Court ruling that found the NCAA’s limits on athletics-related compensation violated antitrust laws (Alston v. NCAA).

The so-called “Alston payments” are not related to athletes’ ability to capitalize on their name, image and likeness via sources outside the university.

The Niccols, who live in Newport Beach, Calif., are MU alumni who met while living in Cincinnati after college.

Brian Niccol is currently the chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer for Chipotle Mexican Grill.

“I personally had a great experience at Miami, made great friends, had great professors,” he said in the news release. “Part of the reason we give back is because I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for going to Miami and having a couple professors who pointed me in the direction of the career that I’m doing today.”

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