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Northern Kentucky to the Horizon

Category: Atlantic Sun Expansion & Realignment, expansion, Featured News, Horizon League Expansion & Realignment, NCAA Conference Expansion & Realignment

Just 4 years after upgrading to Division 1, Northern Kentucky is preparing to also upgrade it’s conference affiliation next year.

Northern Kentucky is set to join the Horizon league for the 2015-2016 season after spending it’s transitional years in the Atlantic Sun. The school will become eligible for the postseason in the 2016-2017 season.

The move brings the the the Horizon League to 10 members after remaining at 9 teams since Butler left to join the Atlantic 10 in 2012. The conference footprint now expands south to add the school located just 7 miles outside of Cincinnati, OH. Adding the school gives the Horizon access to another strong media market and in the process, gives Horizon member Wright State in Dayton, OH, a nearby conference foe.

Horizon Map


With the loss of Northern Kentucky, the Atlantic Sun is left in a difficult spot. At only 7 members, the conference will look to make a move to solidify their membership numbers at 8. Unfortunately for them, there are not an abundance of available options. A betting man should place a wager that the Atlantic Sun will try to convince a regional Division 2 school to upgrade to Division 1 and join. If that fails, they would likely feel out UTRGV and if no other options remain, invite N.J.I.T as their next member to replace Northern Kentucky.

N.J.I.T. is the lone Division 1 independent school that could immediately fill the void. While travel would be less than ideal, direct flights to Newark, NJ could actually be more affordable than expansion to smaller markets that might be slightly closer.

UTRGV (formerly Texas – Pan American) is currently in the WAC and could relieve their travel costs with a switch to the Atlantic Sun. As the WAC is also a more unstable conference with 8 members stretched from Chicago to Seattle to California, the instability of the Atlantic Sun might be less of an issue for UTRGV.

North Alabama and Tarleton State are two current Division 2 schools that could upgrade to Division 1 and would need a conference to provide an invitation in order to make the move. The Atlantic Sun could provide that opportunity as it has for 4 of its current 7 members.

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  • David Stroud

    Tuskegee, Texas A&M-Commerce, Columbus State and West Georgia are looking. If North Alabama and West Georgia are gone> Expect West Florida and Valdosta State to leave D2 as well. I read Belmont Abbey could restart their football as well.

  • Nathan Brice

    There are many teams in the Big Sky and the Big West who would GLADLY join the WAC if there were a need. I would say that the Atlantic Sun’s best option is to invite NJIT because it would be immediately eligible AND potentially get a higher seed than a 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

  • kperk014

    Then you would be STUPID.

  • Ben

    That is a really interesting point with UTRGV, that would be awful for the WAC. If that happens I could easily see NJIT being invited to the WAC.

    Are IUPUI and IPFW possibly headed to the ASun? That would put the Summit at 7 and create some problems for either the WAC or Summit, depending on who invites who’s members first.

  • Ben

    Too many other conferences would go for them and all are much more prestigous. Sun Belt and OVC, and CUSA still might keep them as bball-only member.

  • Danny Comellas

    You didn’t mention the D-1 albatross in the room in UAB. If I’m the A-Sun, I go after them before I touch UNA.


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