President-elect Donald J. Trump has nominated Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola as secretary of the Army.
In a statement Monday, Trump said Viola is “living proof of the American dream.” Viola grew up in a family of Italian immigrants in Brooklyn. His father worked as a truck driver.
Viola is a 1977 West Point graduate. He trained as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer and served in the 101st Airborne Division. He is a graduate of New York Law School. In 2003, he founded and helped fund the creation of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
Viola bought the Panthers for about $250 million in 2013.
In a statement, the Panthers said ownership of the team will remain in the Viola family. The team said current vice chairman/alternate governor Douglas Cifu will become chairman and governor of Sunrise Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of the Panthers, if Viola is confirmed to the Army post.
“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,” said Panthers president and CEO Matthew Caldwell.
The Associated Press contributed to this report