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It’s official: NKU is going Division I

Stephen Wilder

Atlantic Sun commissioner Ted Gumbart fist bumps Victor E. Viking at the pep rally where NKU officially announced that it was extended and accepted an invitation to the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Norse will begin playing a Division I schedule in fall 2012.

Stephen Wilder, Sports features editor

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Northern Kentucky University’s Board of Regents has voted unanimously in favor of accepting an invitation from the Atlantic Sun Conference and to reclassify as a Division I program.

NKU Athletics will begin playing a D-I schedule in fall 2012.

The Norse will be joining East Tennessee State, Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, Mercer, North Florida, South Carolina Upstate and Stetson in A-Sun. Belmont University is also a member but will be leaving in fall 2012 to join the Ohio Valley Conference.

Terry Mann, chair of the Board of Regents, said the A-Sun impressed him because the first thing they were concerned with was student athlete academics.

Mann also said joining A-Sun has its advantages because if NKU plays a schedule of 85 percent D-I schools, it will be eligible for an RPI rating. RPI ratings determine how a team is ranked against others by strength in schedule and wins or losses against key opponents.

“[NKU] can play a full schedule the first year it is in the conference,” Mann said. “You can’t get top notch teams to play you without an RPI. We will have an established RPI so it won’t hurt [other teams’] RPI.”

According to A-Sun, the addition of NKU brings the league to 10 institutions for 2012-13. The addition is the first expansion for the Atlantic Sun since 2007 when the University of South Carolina Upstate and Florida Gulf Coast University joined the league.

Atlantic Sun commissioner Ted Gumbart said reclassification is a challenge for any school that goes through it, but NKU is as prepared as any institution he has seen.

“There is no doubt that this university is ready to go through it with the fewest bumps to be expected,” Gumbart said.

Northern Kentucky will leave the Great Lakes Valley Conference after this season, which it joined in 1985.

The board met today Dec. 8 at 1:30 p.m. to vote on the matter.

A press conference followed at 2:00pm to declare the decision. At 3 p.m., President James Votruba publicly announced the news following the “Norse Force” pep rally in The Bank of Kentucky Center.

Timeline:

• In fall 2012, NKU would begin a four-year reclassification process and all sports would be ineligible for NCAA postseason tournaments.

• In fall 2016, NKU would become an NCAA Division I institution, and be eligible for NCAA Tournament play and eligible for NCAA revenue distributions related to sports sponsorship and grant-in-aid.

• In fall 2019, NKU would be eligible for NCAA revenue distributions related to men’s basketball tournament.

Continue to follow The Northerner here and at @northernermedia on Twitter for more updates and photos.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
It’s official: NKU is going Division I