NJIT To Join Atlantic Sun Conference

It appears that NJIT’s search for a permanent conference home is nearing an end.

Division I’s last independent school is in the process of joining the Atlantic Sun Conference, a source within the program said on Thursday. NJIT, which has 17 varsity sports, is expected to become a member for the start of the 2015-16 season.

NJIT, through a spokesman, has confirmed that there will be a press conference Friday regarding their conference affiliation. It is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. The Atlantic Sun announced they will hold a press conference at NJIT to make an announcement regarding membership at 7 p.m.

The Highlanders basketball program recently finished their best season in their Division I history, reaching the semifinals of the College Insider Postseason tournament. They won 21 games over the course of the 2014-15 season and finished with an RPI ranking of 134, according to NCAA RPI data. Head coach Jim Engles shared the Peter A. Carlesimo Co-Coach of the Year award with St. Francis Brooklyn head coach Glenn Braica, honoring the top coaches in the New York metropolitan area.

The school is planning on building a $100 million arena close to the Newark campus to call its own, which it has boasted the plans of to prospective conferences. The Highlanders transitioned from Division II to Division I in 2006 as an independent, joining the Great West Conference for four seasons. The Great West Conference, which was built around then-independent teams across the country, disbanded after the 2012-13 season. The Highlanders were the only team in the five-team league that did not find a conference and have been the only independent school of all 351 Division I programs the last two seasons.

The conference currently has seven teams prior to adding NJIT, as Northern Kentucky departed for the Horizon League exactly one month ago on May 11. The Atlantic Sun sent North Florida to the NCAA tournament this past season, where they fell to Robert Morris in the First Round.

Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others  for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.

2 thoughts on “NJIT To Join Atlantic Sun Conference

  1. Love it!! Not a bad move for the Atlantic Sun either. GO HIGHLANDERS!!

    But seriously let’s keep working on the American East or NEC invite


  2. Finally NJIT got into a sports conference although this one was unexpected. It was actually targeting America East and NEC and added men’s lacrosse so as to be attractive to them but this addition seems totally irrelevant now especially since Atlantic Sun does not sponsor men’s lacrosse. Good for NJIT as they now have a chance to get into NCAA tournament for most of the sports it sponsors. With this move, it’s women’s Tennis team would move from America East to Atlantic Sun. America East Conference which already lost its men’s tennis AQ to NCAA, would also lose its women’s tennis AQ to NCAA. Just wondering what the commissioner has been doing all these while not doing anything and losing two AQs to NCAA.


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