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Current FOX personality was a DII Man with a Plan

By Anna Braunsdorf

As the current co-host of cable television’s “FOX & Friends” and the host of FOX News Radio’s nationally syndicated radio talk show “Kilmeade & Friends,” Brian Kilmeade is exactly where he had planned to be.

Kilmeade attended Long Island University, which was then known as C.W. Post, from 1982 to 1986 and played as a defender on the soccer team. The 1982 media guide noted his desire to work in television and entertain people. The skills he learned as a Division II student-athlete, Kilmeade says, helped him achieved his aspiration.

“I learned goals early, such as, ‘If you don’t do two miles in 12 minutes, you can’t play,’ ” said Kilmeade, who is the East Coast Conference’s male representative on the Division II 40th Anniversary Tribute Team being honored this year. “But I find that if you have that structure early, and if you are self-motivated, then those are the types of people who get hired in the work force.”

Terri Steeb-Gronau, NCAA vice president of Division II, agreed that student-athletes like Kilmeade have a leg up on their peers.

“When you talk to people who are out there hiring, they’re going after student-athletes because they know they’ve built commitment, leadership and dedication, and they want to be a part of a team,” Steeb-Gronau said. “All those skills – the leadership, the teamwork, the learning how to fail – those are the things that make you successful after college, and we see that so much in our Division II student-athletes.”

A self-admittedly average soccer player himself, Kilmeade always knew he’d have to rely on more than his athletic ability after graduating from Post.

“Most of us play in college and know we have to do something else afterward,” Kilmeade said. “You could be the best, but very rarely do you have a pro career.”

Kilmeade has clearly gone professional in something other than soccer, but he credits much of his success to the life lessons learned in sports. In fact, he has authored two books on the topic: The Games Do Count: America’s Best and Brightest on the Power of Sports and It’s How You Play the Game: The Powerful Sports Moments that Taught Lasting Values to America’s Finest.

The books are based on interviews with top American leaders and celebrities who are former student-athletes – including NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, reality television star Simon Cowell. Kilmeade wrote about how participating in sports prepared them to handle life and overcome adversity with dignity, courage and sportsmanship.

In addition to his books and current gigs with FOX, Kilmeade has worked in various journalistic roles throughout his professional career, covering sports, politics, military activities and more. And though he focuses more on journalism than soccer these days, he has not completely given up the sport he played in college. In his spare time, he coaches his sons’ youth soccer teams.

Kilmeade received his Tribute Team award with flair, too, as he made the presentation part of a live broadcast of “FOX & Friends.”

During the award presentation, Josh Looney, NCAA associate director of Division II, said, “Division II athletics is about more than athletics. It’s about that balance between academics and athletics and preparing our student-athletes to go on for a great career in whatever they may want to do. On behalf of the NCAA and the East Coast Conference, welcome to the 40th anniversary team.”

Kilmeade accepted the award on behalf of every student-athlete who, as he put it, tried extremely hard and “was just OK.”

“It’s hard to get trophies at age 48 or 49,” Kilmeade said. “But now that I’ve got one, it’s tremendous, and there’s plenty of room in my trophy case for it.”