The Padres introduced National University on Friday morning as the team's latest locally-based major partner.

San Diego announced an initial three-year agreement that makes National University the exclusive higher-education partner of the Padres, while the ballclub becomes the university's "home team."

"This is a multi-faceted and very comprehensive agreement that we anticipate creating a partnership for many years," Padres president and CEO Mike Dee said during a press conference atop the roof of the Western Metal Supply Co. building.

As part of the agreement, National University will join the Padres' existing Military Scholarship and Padres Scholars programs.

The player-backed Padres scholarship program has annually funded future college scholarships for up to 25 at-risk middle-school students a year for the past two decades.

National University will also become the presenting partner of an annual Teacher Appreciation Night at Petco Park, which will be held on May 2. The university will also sponsor Sports Bag Night at Petco Park on July 5.

"The stars were aligned on this partnership," said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, the president of National University and the chancellor of the National University System that includes 28 campuses, 30,000 students and 140,000 alumni across the geography of Major League Baseball's western divisions.

National University is the second-largest private, nonprofit university in California.

"As a non-traditional university serving working professionals with careers and families, this is an opportunity to offer our students a home sports team," Dr. Cunningham said.

"National University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible to everyone," Dee added. "Its support of this community, including the substantial military population, aligns perfectly with the commitments of our organization."

Dee will enroll at National University as part of a program that will make its education available to Padres players, coaches, executive staff and alumni. Players, coaches and executives will also make appearances at National University events.

The partnership includes the renaming of the picnic area just beyond the bullpens in left-center field to the National University Picnic Terrace. A new sign, one of the largest in the seating bowl, will be installed above the area by midseason. Until then, the National University sign will be on the rooftop of the Western Metal Supply Co. building.

Beginning in 2015, National University will hold its annual commencement ceremonies at Petco Park.