Maryland football superfan Keith Moore, known as “Special K,” has died, the team announced Tuesday. A cause of death was not given.
Moore, a Maryland alumnus, motivational speaker and consultant, spent numerous Saturdays on the sidelines galvanizing the crowd clad in his No. 99 jersey and trademark cape.
“I got to know Special K well during my stints at Maryland,” coach Michael Locksley said in a statement. “His passion for Terps football was so genuine. Our players and our fans fed off his energy and he will be extremely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.”
Moore was famous for leading the “Keys, please” chant, during which fans would take out their keys and jingle them on 3rd downs.
He started as the cheerleading’s squad’s “microphone man” when he was a student in 1987, according to a 2012 profile published by Capital News Service, a news organization with student reporters at the university. He wore a tuxedo to each home game till his graduation in 1991 but continued to appear at the team’s homecoming games.
His nickname “Special K” predates his time at the university, however. Moore worked as an announcer in high school and would give out the cereal to athletes who played well, according to an article on the athletic department’s website.
In 1999, the athletic department asked him to come to every home game to lead cheers on the sidelines and he filled that role with aplomb.
He said he loved the chance to contribute to the university and help instill pride in the team, according to the Capital News Service article. He tried to create “sideline synergy” by joining everyone to create a “12th Terp” that he felt could help revitalize Maryland, according to the article from the athletic department.
In some ways, particularly in the program’s lean years, Moore became the face of Maryland football.
In his professional life outside of Maryland football, Moore held a number of managerial roles in retail before starting Moore Motivation Inc., his consulting company, according to his LinkedIn page.
“You build a bank account on what you get, but you will build a legacy on what you give,” Moore said to Maryland’s student newspaper, The Diamondback. “I hope and pray the spirit I’ve brought here will live forever. They give out 10,000 student tickets each game, and I hope there are 10,000 Special K spirits that show up long after I have departed.”