Coach Keeler Fired from Delaware

Delaware FCS Football Head Coach K.C. Keeler
George Hammond

Coach Keeler Fired from Delaware

While college coaching changes are a given during the offseason, no one saw this one coming out of Newark, Delaware.  Earlier today (Jan. 7), the University of Delaware relieved head football coach K.C. Keeler of his duties.

A statement released by the school’s Director of Athletics Eric Ziady said:  “We appreciate the efforts and accomplishments of Coach Keeler in leading the Blue Hen football program, and the 86 wins and the 2003 national championship will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of Blue Hen faithful. However, at this important time in UD Athletics, after thorough evaluation, I believe a change of direction is needed in Delaware football. We must reinvigorate our program and re-energize you, our supporters, as we lay the foundation for future success.  On behalf of the Department of Athletics and the University, I want to thank Coach Keeler for his work with our student-athletes over the years and we wish him and his family all the best.”

According to Kevin Tresolini of the Wilmington (Delaware) News-Journal, Keeler, 53, said he was called into a meeting with Ziady, UD executive vice president Scott Douglass and UD attorney Tom LaPenta. Asked if he was given a reason, Keeler said, “They just want to move in a different direction, I guess.”

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 Harold R. “Tubby” Raymond, who retired after 36 seasons at the helm.

In 11 seasons at UD, Keeler 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 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 campaigns, missing out on an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Tournament berth both years. Delaware was 5-6 this season and lost its final four games, its longest losing streak since the 1967 season. It was just the ninth losing record in the Blue Hens’ 70 seasons since 1940, but third in the last seven years.

The timing of the firing was somewhat odd with national letter of intent day less than a month away. According to Tresolini, the Hens had already received verbal commitments from nine prospects.

“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 said. “I fully support Eric’s [Ziady] decision and I am confident that we will attract an outstanding coach to continue to write the Delaware football legacy.”