Norse fans looking within A-Sun Conference for newest rival

#BellarmineHateWeek is well behind us. Although we have moved on to bigger and better things in Division I, we are left without a new “most hated rival.” Unless you follow NKU social media.


This past summer, NKU’s mascot, Victor E. Viking, was in the finals for the Atlantic Sun Conference’s “Most Valuable Mascot” for the second year in a row, after winning the first year.


However, this year Victor lost to Florida Gulf Coast’s mascot, Azul the Eagle, amid controversy in the voting on Instagram.


In a press release issued by the A-Sun, the conference stated, “Voting on Instagram for both mascots was halted at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30th due to suspicious activity on the Atlantic Sun Instagram page.”


Comments on Instagram ensued, including the hashtag “#TeamRecount” and “#VictorOverAzul.” One FGCU fan, Juan Cubillo, commented on Instagram, “Azul is gonna love having you guys on our home floor December 30th,” referencing the NKU vs. Florida Gulf Coast men’s basketball game in Ft. Myers, Florida.


In the 2012-13 season, the men’s basketball team led the Atlantic Sun in attendance average, with an average attendance of 3,551 at each home basketball game, according to Don Owen, director of sports information and media relations at NKU.


The game against Florida Gulf Coast was the third-highest attended game last season, with 3,386 people in attendance, behind the final game of the season against Jacksonville (6,719) and the homecoming game against Kennesaw State (4,716).


But according to one NKU coach, attendance doesn’t necessarily equate to rivalry.


“It’s usually the best team in the conference,” said men’s basketball Head Coach Dave Bezold. “It’s got to be Florida Gulf Coast.”


Mercer won the conference last year; however they are leaving the Atlantic Sun after this season, according to Bezold.


Though Mercer won the regular season championship, Florida Gulf Coast won the Atlantic Sun Tournament and earned the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles were dubbed the “Cinderella team” after advancing to the Sweet 16.


Students chimed in on Facebook to The Northerner’s question, asking “Who do YOU think NKU’s biggest rival is, now that we’ve gone Division I?”


“Looking back on performances by FGCU last year, I agree that they are a big threat,” said Erin Pierce, senior journalism major. “All around great programs down there with some fierce competition. Hopefully NKU can match it this year.”


“Easy, FGCU,” said Kevin Schomaker,  senior computer science major. “They are a threat right now after having made the Sweet 16 in men’s basketball last season.”


NKU will host Florida Gulf Coast in the final game of the 2013-14 regular season on March 1, 2014 at The Bank of Kentucky Center.