Getting into the excitement of March Madness, Carlow University has announced that starting in the fall of 2014, the once-all-girl’s school’s first men’s basketball team will take the court. The Carlow University Celtics will compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
“This has been a few years in the making,” said Carlow University President Suzanne Mellon. “The original recommendation for a men’s basketball team originated from an athletics task force, a group comprised of students, faculty and staff that began meeting four years ago.”
The recommendation from that task force however, did not list basketball as the top priority for a new program. But, Mellon said that after a 2012 student survey it became clear that students chose basketball as a priority sport.
“Following the student survey, when we brought the idea for a men’s basketball team to the Carlow administration they did not dismiss the idea as impossible, more importantly they did not laugh at us,” said Jehosha Wright, a Carlow student who will play for the team as a senior. “They considered the idea and they recognized the impact that a men’s team would have on the campus beyond the players and set about making it happen.”
The men’s basketball team is the second men’s team at Carlow, the other is cross country. These teams will join women’s basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball in competing in the NAIA’s Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC). Mellon said the hope is that this will help male enrollment continue to increase.
“We’re about at 9 percent undergraduate and 14 percent adult and graduate,” said Mellon. “So we, overall, are at about 11 percent male enrollment and we anticipate that growing over the next several years.”
The team will be coached by Tim Keefer who started a basketball program from scratch as the first four-year men’s basketball coach at Penn State Greater Allegheny. He also spent 10 seasons as head varsity basketball coach at Oliver High School. Keefer said there will be challenges in starting a new program, but he and the students are up for that challenge.
“No one will work harder than this team, but school will also come first,” said Keefer. “They are coming to Carlow to get a degree. I’m excited that we’re giving them a chance to make history and play a sport that they love. I expect them to be great ambassadors of Carlow both on and off the court.”
NAIA non-conference and USCAA schedule begins Nov. 8, 2014. Carlow home games will be played at Oakland Catholic High School.