The idea for South Florida’s newest college football team started on a golf course about eight years ago.
Keiser University CEO Arthur Keiser was playing golf with Keiser’s Board of Trustees Chairman Gregg Wallick, a former University of Miami football player, when Wallick suggested starting a football program at their school.
“We sat down and started saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a football team?’” Keiser said.
That idea became a reality Tuesday when Keiser University announced it would launch a football program in 2018, with a planned stadium on the school’s flagship campus in West Palm Beach.
“Our hope … is that we become the football team of West Palm Beach,” Keiser said.
The Seahawks will be a member of The Sun Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Keiser’s other sports programs are also members of that conference.
The Sun Conference has 11 members, including eight located in Florida: Keiser, Ave Maria, Florida Memorial (Miami), Johnson & Wales (North Miami), St. Thomas (Miami Gardens), Southeastern (Lakeland) Warner (Lake Wales) and Webber International (Babson Park).
Keiser expects to have its stadium built by the spring of 2018. Athletics director Kris Swogger said the exact location is not set.
“The goal is to build something that (can be) a multipurpose facility,” said Swogger, saying he would also like to host high school title games.
“I think it would be something that we’d start small, but have the opportunity to continue to build over the years. … From a seating capacity standpoint, we’d need to be 1,500 to 2,000, minimum.”
Swogger said the school would be putting together a search committee to find the program’s first head coach. He did not rule out bringing in a local high school
“Obviously, they’re going to need football knowledge,” Swogger said. But it could be high school, it could be college.”
The school already has one big-name coach in men’s basketball coach Rollie Massimino, who led Villanova to the NCAA championship in 1985 and has built Keiser’s program into an NAIA contender. Massimino, who has led Keiser to eight consecutive NAIA national tournaments, is excited for the start of Keiser’s football program and the potential for similar success on the gridiron.
“This place is ready to explode,” he said.