Northern Kentucky to Join Atlantic Sun

Thursday, December 08, 2011

MACON, Ga. – The Atlantic Sun Conference Presidents Council announced today that Northern Kentucky University will join the Atlantic Sun Conference effective July 1, 2012, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2012-13 academic year.

The addition of NKU brings the A-Sun membership to 10 institutions for 2012-13. The addition is the first expansion for the A-Sun since 2007 when Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of South Carolina Upstate joined the league. As the Norse begin competing in all sports in 2012-13, the program will begin its transition from Division II to Division I. Northern Kentucky will be included in regular season schedules and eligible for individual awards and regular season team titles immediately. The Norse cross country, golf and track & field programs will compete in next season’s conference championships with the remaining sports gaining postseason eligibility in 2016-17 at the conclusion of the four-year transitional process.

“This day has been a long time in the making,” said NKU President James Votruba. “Today we begin a new era not just for our athletics program, but for our institution and our region. Division I athletics will help position the university regionally and nationally in a way that otherwise would not be possible.

“We’ve said for several years that we would make this move when we could field competitive Division I teams without compromising other critical university priorities,” he said. “The other important component was to find a group of peer institutions that share our aspirations. The A-Sun is a great fit for us. The league has a diverse membership of large and small institutions, public and private. All share a deep commitment to academic achievement and athletic success.”

Northern Kentucky, located in Highland Heights, Ky., just minutes from Cincinnati, is reaching an all-time high in educational quality. The Princeton Review has named NKU’s College of Business among America’s best, and graduates from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law routinely outperform their peers on the Kentucky and Ohio Bar Exams. NKU was also ranked among America’s Best Colleges by Forbes magazine in 2010. In 2004, NKU was one of only four universities selected nationally to participate in the two-year “Making Place Matter” community leadership study, and in 2005 NKU was one of only 13 universities to advise the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in another study involving community engagement. Northern Kentucky has an enrollment of 15,716 students, which would be the third largest institution in the A-Sun, with only Kennesaw State and North Florida having larger enrollment.

The Norse athletics program’s growth has paralleled that of the university. NKU has won three Division II national championships, including men’s soccer in 2010 and two women’s basketball since 2000. Men’s golf has participated in NCAA postseason competition every year since 2000, including qualifying for the NCAA Regional the past three years. In 2011, three teams participated in NCAA Tournaments, including a second-round appearance for men’s basketball. Participating in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, eight of the school’s 13 varsity sports have won at least one GLVC title in the last three years.

“On behalf of everyone invested in the success of the Atlantic Sun Conference, I am very pleased to officially welcome Northern Kentucky University as our newest member," A-Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart said. "NKU's commitment to the highest level of achievement, in the classroom and on the playing fields makes it a wonderful fit for the A-Sun. We look forward to building a strong partnership with the entire Northern Kentucky community as we work together on the continued growth and success of NKU and the Atlantic Sun Conference."

With new facilities for basketball, soccer, softball and tennis – as well as renovated facilities for volleyball and baseball – NKU’s athletics facilities are on par with its Division I peers. The 9400-seat Bank of Kentucky Center, home of the basketball program, serves as the jewel of the Norse’s impressive facilities. NKU is located in the nation’s No. 33 media market, making it the fourth largest in the A-Sun, and the success of its programs has garnered much regional, state and national attention.

NKU’s men’s sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, and tennis. Women’s sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. The Norse participate in every sport sponsored by the A-Sun except men’s track and field, women’s lacrosse and sand volleyball.

“This is a big step for our university, and we are excited about the invitation to join the Atlantic Sun Conference,” NKU Director of Athletics Scott Eaton said. “We deeply appreciate all of the friendships we made over the years as a member of the GLVC and Division II. There are many great memories from our years of competing in the league that we will always cherish.

“The rigorous competition within the GLVC has prepared us well for what we will face at the Division I level,” he said. “We are ready for the next step and look forward to building new friendships in the Atlantic Sun Conference and Division I. I know everyone at NKU is very excited about this opportunity.”

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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University. Northern Kentucky University will join the Atlantic Sun Conference effective July 1, 2012.