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Archive for June 20, 2019

June 20, 2019 — A leap into Division I, but at what cost?

Tuesday, it was revealed that Bellarmine University, a small Roman Catholic college in Louisville, Ky., was going to move from its place in Division II to the Atlantic Sun conference in Division I.

The move is expected to be finalized by next summer, led by the school’s men’s basketball team, which won the Division II national title in 2019, and will instantly have regional rivalries with Louisville, the University of Kentucky, and Western Kentucky University.

Bellarmine has been a favorite of the NCAA, as the campus chipped in with hosting several events in the Division II championship festivals in 2010, 2012, and 2014. The question is, with this move up in class, what will the impact be on other sports at the school?

I particularly worry about field hockey. Bellarmine has just made a pretty good upgrade by bringing in former Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) star Devanny Kuhn Boisvert as head coach, and fellow SHA alumna Michelle Ciliberti as assistant coach. But Bellarmine is going to have to go from its current (and stable) Great Lakes schedule to the unknown and unpredictable world of being a Division I independent.

That is, unless the Knights want to join up with a very disjointed field hockey conference map. There being no Atlantic Sun field hockey, it’s possible the Knights may want to replace Pacific in the America East, which has given its remaining three Pacific Coast teams (Stanford, Cal-Berkeley, and Cal-Davis) for one more year, backtracking on the original plan to drop them after the addition of Monmouth University.

Now, I think there’s an opportunity for the A-Sun, since Liberty University already has a team, albeit it is in the Big East. Too, there are a number of enterprising colleges in the conference such as Florida Gulf Coast, Kennesaw State, and Stetson, who could plant the seeds of field hockey in the deep south.

But for an A-Sun league to truly have a chance to start, you’d have to start with the New Jersey Institute of Technology, located smack in the midst of about half of the field hockey talent in the United States if you extend a circle for 200 miles around its campus. Yep, it could attract all of New Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut, a good part of Massachusetts, eastern Pennsylvania, and the northern half of Delaware.

This whole thing could get interesting quick if NJIT gets a field hockey team.