University of Delaware fires football coach K.C. Keeler

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Keeler-lgUniversity of Delaware Football Coach K.C. Keeler has been fired.

The university announced the move Monday and will launch a nationwide search for a successor. The move came as a surprise to some, despite recent lackluster seasons for the Blue Hens.

“We appreciate the efforts and accomplishments of Coach Keeler in leading the Blue Hens football program,” UD Director of Athletics and Recreation Services Eric Ziady stated.  “The 86 wins and the 2003 National Championship will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of the Blue Hen faithful, and I thank coach for his commitment to his alma mater.

 “However, at this important time in UD Athletics, and after thorough evaluation over the past two months, I believe a change of direction is needed in Delaware football.  We must reinvigorate our program and reenergize our supporters as we lay the foundation for future success,” said Ziady, who is new to the post.

Keeler, a Blue Hens linebacker from 1978-80, was head coach at NCAA Division III Rowan University for nine seasons before being named UD head coach in 2002, replacing  “Tubby” Raymond, who retired after 36 seasons.

In 11 seasons at UD, Keeler, wearing his trademark sunglasses,  posted a record of 86-52 with an NCAA Division I-AA national championship in 2003. The Blue Hens were runners-up in two additional national championship appearances in 2007 and 2010.

However,the release announcing Keeler’s dismissal noted that the Blue Hens failed to advance to the post-season four of the last five seasons and posted a combined record of just 12-10 over the past two years, falling short of an  NCAA national championship  berth both years. The last straw may have come when  Delaware lost the last four games of the 2012 season. The steak was the longest since the 1967 season.

The university had also seen some blow back from decisions to change parking and other amenities for season ticket holders. It also faces the end of the collegiate career  of  women’s basketball star Elena Delle Donne. Delle Donne has raised the profile of the university that may be best known these days as the alma mater of Vice President Joe Biden.

“On behalf of the university, I want to thank coach Keeler for his service to our institution and we wish him the best in his future endeavors,” UD President Patrick Harker stated . “I fully support Eric’s decision and I am confident that we will attract an outstanding coach to continue to write the Delaware football legacy.”

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