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Atlantic Sun Left Scrambling after Northern Kentucky's Departure

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Can the Atlantic Sun survive without Northern Kentucky?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I'm sure you've heard by now that the Northern Kentucky Norse are bolting from the Atlantic Sun to join the Horizon League. Everyone seems to be focused on how it effects the Norse and the Horizon League though and not even thinking of the Atlantic Sun.

This is a great move for NKU, it's much better geographically for the school that essentially is in Cincinnati and originally hoped to join the Ohio Valley Conference. But this move leaves the Atlantic Sun reeling after losing Mercer, Belmont, East Tennessee State, Campbell, and Gardner-Webb since 2008.

The ASun now has seven members when NKU leaves and it sounds like the move will be for the immediate 2015-16 conference season. Seven members is the minimum for any conference to still have an auto-bid into the NCAA Tournament. Our friends at Swish Appeal had a quote from Florida Gulf Coast play by play man David Moulton who did not sound happy:

"If this takes effect immediately, this is a scheduling nightmare. Seven schools now have to find 18-19 non-conference games.

"That's a staggering number and will lead to a bunch of non-DI games -- and terrible RPI's in many sports. NKU should have had the decency to do what Belmont, Mercer and ETSU did, which was announce your departure effective in a year."

"Besides, the A-Sun took them three years ago when no other Division I conference wanted them in 2012. That courtesy, and the fact the A-Sun made all NKU teams eligible for the conference tournaments this year -- when they did not have to, should have earned the A-Sun, and their seven other schools a one-year reprieve.

"NKU leaving should not have been a surprise -- leaving in a month is bush-league."

Basically a conference like the Big South, Southern, or others could send a haymaker to the ASun right now that would effectively kill the conference. UAB joining is even more improbable now and the conference may need to turn to non-Division I schools like West Georgia, Bellarmine, Francis Marion, Valdosta State, North Alabama, and others. Any non-D1 school looking to move up with football though will likely look elsewhere, which puts the ASun at yet another disadvantage. Perhaps the conference will also look to MEAC members in Florida, like Bethune-Cookman, looking to bolt?

This will certainly be something interesting to keep an eye on for a conference that has given us a lot of March Madness memories over the past few years.