Move to Div. I may be in NKU’s future

The possibility of constructing a new on-campus special events center may spark the Northern Kentucky University Athletic Program to consider a move to the NCAA Division I ranks.

A building that could seat 8,000 to 10,000 people might prove to be the missing link needed to make the jump to Division I.

“Everybody’s goal is to be Division I and to have the perks and the TV,” said Head Baseball Coach Todd Asalon.

“I think in the long run it’ll be great. As coaches, we like the new challenges.”

Currently the university participates in the NCAA Division II, and is extremely competitive, boasting numerous athletic teams with a national ranking nearly every year.

“Right now we have a niche in the Greater Cincinnati area and, if you look at the media, they follow us even though we are D-II,” said Athletic Director Jane Meier.

“One of the reasons is we are successful, and the other is we have a number of Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati athletes in our program,” she said.

A move to Division I would require the athletic teams to expand recruiting “while continuing to have the best local athletes as well,” Meier said.

The NCAA Division I requires that all schools must have at least 14 different sports teams.

However, NKU has only 13 teams, so another sport would have to be added to make the move possible.

An expansion of administrative supports would also be necessary, specifically in the areas of promotions and marketing.

The move to NCAA Division I could also turn out to be a costly procedure.

“We did do an estimate, and it would probably be an average of an additional $2.5 million to $3.5 million over our present budget,” Meier said.

“This additional cost would cover expenses associated with coaching and travel, and would most likely have to come from a combination of student and state revenues or from fundraising done by the university itself.”

According to Meier, the university would also have to join a conference to help offset some of the expenses.

“There’d have to be a midwestern conference in our area, which would like to get into our market,” said Meier.

The Mid-Continent Conference, The Horizon League, and The Ohio Valley Conference were all mentioned as possible future considerations if a jump was made to the Division I level.

Based on its geographical location NKU would have the luxury of being located a short distance from many of the top rated regional opponents.

This could present the possibility of competing against teams such as the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, Xavier University, and the University of Cincinnati.

Also if a move is made, NKU wouldn’t be able to compete in Division I postseason play for the first five years of competition.

That would exclude an entire recruiting class from each team from competing in postseason play.

In order for the move to take place, however, a state bond has to be passed, a special events center has to be built, and large sums of money have to be raised.

Until all of these needs are fulfilled, the NKU Athletic Program will have to stay competitive in Division II.

“I think we have to look at moving from the Division II to Division I,” Meier said. “But we have to do it right.”

*Kyle Burch contributed