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One-time NKU rival Bellarmine moving to NCAA Division I, joins Atlantic Sun Conference in 2020-21

The Atlantic Sun Conference announced Tuesday the addition of Bellarmine University into the league after a unanimous vote by the ASUN Presidents Council.

The Knights, who will become a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference starting with the 2020-21 season, increase the league’s membership to 10 institutions.

“The addition of Bellarmine University to the ASUN continues the rising trend of our league,” said Atlantic Sun Conference Commissioner Ted Gumbart. “We are extremely proud to become teammates with a great university and the Louisville area community. Today, we celebrate a new beginning together with all students, coaches, faculty, administration, alumni, boosters and Knight fans everywhere.

The Atlantic Sun Conference announced Tuesday the addition of Bellarmine University into the league after a unanimous vote by the ASUN Presidents Council. (ASUN photo)

“We appreciate the visionary leadership of President Donovan, the Board of Trustees, Athletics Director Scott Wiegandt, and the entire leadership and athletic department team at Bellarmine that made today possible. On behalf of the ASUN family, we welcome our newest member and look forward to growing this partnership as we work together in our goal of Building Winners for Life.”

Bellarmine fields 17 sports sponsored by the ASUN, while the school’s men’s lacrosse program will continue as a member of the Southern Conference. Bellarmine’s men’s and women’s swimming will now participate in the CCSA, with its field hockey and wrestling programs moving to Division I independent status.

“I’m happy to announce that one of the first initiatives in Bellarmine’s new strategic plan is being realized today,” said Dr. Susan M. Donovan, Bellarmine’s president. “Our athletics program will move to NCAA Division I through an invitation from the ASUN Conference. This move gives us the opportunity to compete against the best rivals in college sports, and it allows us to share the Bellarmine story with a larger audience than ever before.

“As we make the move to D-I, we will continue to maintain our academic rigor and pursue ways to innovate and enhance the exceptional educational experience that Bellarmine University has offered students since its founding.”

With the addition of Bellarmine to the ASUN, the league resides in seven states and features nine of the top-80 media markets in the nation.

“ASUN is a perfect fit for the Knights, because – like Bellarmine – every school in the conference is committed to putting students first,” said Scott Wiegandt, Bellarmine’s director of athletics. “Our student-athletes already meet Division I academic standards, and our players and coaches will be ready to compete when we arrive in our new conference next year.

“While our facilities generally meet D-I standards, we’re planning some upgrades that will enhance the experience for our student-athletes, our opponents and our fans. The improved reach offered through ASUN and ESPN will shine a brighter spotlight on Bellarmine, with more regional and national attention.”

(Compiled from the Atlantic Sun Conference and Bellarmine)

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