Macon, Ga. – The Atlantic Sun Conference Presidents Council will announce in a press conference scheduled for Noon today that the New Jersey Institute of Technology will join the Atlantic Sun Conference effective July 1, 2015, with competition to begin in 13 sports for the 2015-16 academic year.
The addition of NJIT will bring the A-Sun membership to eight institutions for 2015-16. The addition of NJIT comes a month after Northern Kentucky, which had been a member of the A-Sun for three years, announced its intention to leave the A-Sun following the 2014-15 academic year to become a member of the Horizon League. NJIT fields 14 Division I sports sponsored by the A-Sun including baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track & field, men’s and women’s tennis and volleyball.
The Highlanders’ men’s swimming and diving team has been a member of the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association for two years, which the A-Sun currently operates in partnership with three other Division I conferences. NJIT will be included in regular season schedules and eligible for individual awards, regular season and postseason team titles immediately with the exception of men’s soccer. Because of existing commitments, men’s soccer will play in A-Sun schedules beginning in the 2016-17 academic year. The addition of NJIT and the New York media market will also bring the A-Sun exposure in seven of the top markets in the nation.
“We have developed excellent working relationships with the Atlantic Sun Presidents and conference leadership. We share a commitment to academic excellence, the best possible quality student-athlete experience and the value of long-standing partnerships,” commented Joel S. Bloom, President, New Jersey Institute of Technology, “The quality of interaction with our colleagues in the Atlantic Sun has been invigorating, and we look forward to being part of what clearly is a remarkable conference at a very special point in its history.”
NJIT, located in Newark, N.J., is a particularly good fit for the A-Sun, both academically and philosophically. With an enrollment of 10,646, NJIT’s has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, and the Brookings Institute, to name a few, for its success academically. The U.S. News Best Colleges edition ranked NJIT 149th among national universities overall for its range of undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs and for its commitment to groundbreaking research. NJIT also ranked 14th among national universities on the Campus Ethnic Diversity list. Called an “America’s Top College” by Forbes, NJIT also checked in as one of the top 10 colleges and universities in the nation for high value-added in terms of occupational earning power. Additionally, CBS Money Watch called the institution a “hidden gem” in its 2015 “new ranking of college superstars.”
“On behalf of my colleagues on the Atlantic Sun Conference Presidents Council, I am proud to welcome New Jersey Institute of Technology as the newest member of the A-Sun,” said A-Sun Presidents Council Chair and USC Upstate Chancellor, Dr. Tom Moore.
“We are very pleased to be able to expand in partnership with an institution that shares the primary A-Sun values of academic and athletic success. NJIT adds an institutional academic profile that makes a great fit with our membership, and the Highlander student-athletes achieve at a rate that meets the record-setting levels of the rest of the A-Sun.”
“This expansion provides a mutually beneficial increase in institutional and conference exposure for student recruitment, alumni engagement and media coverage of our athletic achievements.”
For the fifth year, NJIT was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, one of the highest federal recognitions a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. NJIT joins seven current A-Sun members from the 2014 list.
A-Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart added, “As we continue building the A-Sun, adding NJIT brings an overall institutional presence that will contribute academically, athletically, and with the overall student-athlete experience. We look forward to celebrating this announcement together and competing with them for championships this coming season.”
The efforts of the NJIT administration, Highlanders athletic department, and coaching staff have paid off as the Highlanders have achieved national, regional, and local recognition for their accomplishments on the playing field, including honors, titles, and awards earned as a member of the Great West Conference, the ECAC, and the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.
However, the Highlanders’ crowning achievement came this year with a historical run by Coach Jim Engles and the men’s basketball program. Sporting the school’s first 20-win season, a signature win over the #17 ranked Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor, and a final regular season RPI that ranked the only Division I Independent as the 13th ranked “conference,” the Highlanders advanced to the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, the school’s first-ever postseason appearance.
“We are excited to have NJIT join the A-Sun and look forward to competing against them in conference play,” USC Upstate Director of Athletics Lee Fowler said. “NJIT brings a lot to the table and will help strengthen our conference academically, athletically and geographically. We look forward to working with them and enthusiastically welcome them into the conference.”
In addition to expanding the scope of varsity sports offered at the Division I level, the administration and athletic departments have successfully funded the construction of three major campus athletic facilities: Wellness & Events Center ($100 million multipurpose venue, featuring a 3,500-seat basketball arena); Lubetkin Field at J. Michael Simon Stadium (an all-weather SprinTurf-covered soccer/lacrosse facility, which includes lights, seating for over 1,000 spectators, a press box and scoreboard); and the Naimoli Family Athletic and Recreation Facility (a 25,600 square foot indoor tennis and recreation center).
“This is a great day for NJIT, our department, and most importantly our student-athletes,” said NJIT Director of Athletics Lenny Kaplan. “It has been an almost 10-year journey to find the right conference home for our athletic teams, and I am excited that the Atlantic Sun is that home. Many people have put in a lot of work to get to this point, none more than our coaches and student-athletes, and I hope they all get to enjoy this day and the opportunities that will follow.”
The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with eight member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts exposure in seven of the top 75 media markets in the nation. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University. New Jersey Institute of Technology will join the Atlantic Sun Conference effective July 1, 2015.
*** The release and all information included was provided by the Atlantic Sun Conference.