Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola has been selected by President-elect Donald Trump to be the new Secretary of the Army subject to Senate confirmation.
Viola, a 1977 graduate of West Point, is the founder of Virtu Financial and bought the Panthers in 2013.
Trump and Viola apparently met last week at Trump Tower in New York.
“I am proud to have such an incredibly accomplished and selfless individual as Vincent Viola as our Secretary of the Army,” Trump said in a statement.
“Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge.
“He is a man of outstanding work ethic, integrity, and strategic vision, with an exceptional ability to motivate others. The American people, whether civilian or military, should have great confidence that Vinnie Viola has what it takes to keep America safe and oversee issues of concern to our troops in the Army.”
Viola, who founded the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, says the nomination is a “great honor.”
“If confirmed, I will work tirelessly to provide our president with the land force he will need to accomplish any mission in support of his National Defense Strategy,” Viola said in the release.
“A primary focus of my leadership will be ensuring that America's soldiers have the ways and means to fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict. This great honor comes with great responsibility, and I will fight for the American people and their right to live free every day.”
According to the Florida Panthers, ownership of the team would remain in the Viola family pending confirmation.
Doug Cifu, a partner of Viola’s with the Panthers as well as Virtu Financial, would become chairman and governor of Sunrise Sports and Entertainment.
“Our hockey team has always been proud to be part of Mr. Viola’s legacy,” Florida’s Dale Tallon said.
“We admire his dedication to his country and are excited to watch him pursue this new endeavor.”
Said Panthers CEO and West Point graduate Matthew Caldwell: “We are honored and humbled to see Mr. Viola nominated as the Secretary of the Army. We could not be more proud for Vinnie and his dedication to our country.”