I graduated from NJIT so I would speak from my perspective (although it seems like a little too late right now).
The NJIT Athletic Director said they have been begging people for closed to 10 years but no conference with AQ was willing to accept them so they grabbed the first opportunity that they had. They are also very happy with the deal ( see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG1R52kZFdY
" ) and also immediately received a 7-year sponsorship from Adidas ( http://njithighlanders.com/news/2015/7/ ... th=general
) for the entire athletic program after that. So NJIT would be in Atlantic Sun for quite a while.
Are the Presidents aiming for better sports or better academics or both is the question? If they are going for both or academics, then they should have picked NJIT, which has similar profile as almost all of them as a public national university and create America East 10 like Big Ten and Pac-10 (I know it is 12 right now) which are all public national universities plus one or two private universities. It is also impossible to get other similar profile universities like U-Conn, Penn State, U-Mass, Rhode Island, Rutgers and Delaware as they are very comfortable in their more sports competitive conferences.
Since Basketball is the biggest sport in the conference, I shall use it as an example. AE is unlikely to be super-strong in sports judging from the type of basketball players it is able to recruit ( https://www.verbalcommits.com/conferences/america-east
" ) . Make a click from the link supplied to another stronger sports conference in the region (like Atlantic-10, CAA, Big East and Big Ten) to see the type of players that AE schools are able to recruit and compare. If you take a look at the best basketball players in the conference for the past few ten of years, you would not find many NBA players ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_E ... f_the_Year
" ). So far only Hartford (Vin Baker) and Northeastern University (Reggie Lewis) have produced good NBA players. So top athletics stay away from the conference knowing they would get better shots realizing their dreams joining stronger sports conferences. This probably explains why universities like Towson, Hofstra, Drexel, Delaware, Rhode Island and Northeastern left although this may also be due to lack of Football. But there are exceptions too, Harvard is able to recruit better players ( https://www.verbalcommits.com/conferences/ivy
" ) because it recently produced a good NBA player (Jeremy Lin) and Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun) is able to attract better players (a few 3-stars or better) because it had a good run in NCAA tournament.
The other schools (Boston University, Canisius College, Siena College, Niagara University, Colgate University and College of the Holy Cross) that left AE went to more profile-fitting conferences. So profile-fit and comparable strength sports programs seem to be the most important considerations whether to invite universities to conferences or not. In my personal opinion, NJIT met both requirements but was not invited to AE. This was still the case after it had a good year in basketball ( 21 wins, beat ranked team Michigan, beat Ivy League Regular Season Champion, beat NEC regular season champion, beat MEAC tournament champion, reached CIT semi-finals ) and announcement of new 100 million sports arena.
It just does not make sense; they rather lose Men's swimming and both Tennis programs than to strengthen the conference. Which university that is willing to leave its existing conference is a better fit than NJIT?