Bellarmine University is making the leap to Division I and will join the ASUN conference, according to a report from WDRB in Louisville.
The station said that presidents from the nine ASUN schools voted unanimously to add the Knights for the 2020-21 season, and that the school’s board of trustees has approved the move.
Bellarmine’s official announcement is expected to come in a press conference Tuesday morning.
Join Bellarmine University in Centro’s McGowan Hall atrium at 11:30AM on Tuesday, June 18, for a significant announcement about the university and our @BUKnights athletics program.— Bellarmine University (@bellarmineU) June 17, 2019
⚔️ #SwordsUpBU ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/iSKX6bUpyL
The Louisville Courier-Journal first reported rumblings that Bellarmine was considering a jump to the ASUN back in mid-April. Conference representatives visited the school this spring and a formal decision was expected by May 15.
Bellarmine, located in Louisville, Ky., is a private Catholic school with approximately 2,500 undergraduate students. The school has 22 varsity teams, 21 of which compete in the Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference. Its lacrosse team already plays in the D-I Southern Conference.
The Knights have been a power in D-II basketball under coach Scott Davenport. Bellarmine has advanced to the NCAA tournament in each of the last 11 seasons, reaching the Final Four on four separate occasions. The Knights finished 28-5 overall last season.
The ASUN currently has nine members after adding Liberty and North Alabama last year. But ASUN commissioner Ted Gumbart told the Courier-Journal that the conference planned to be diligent with any further expansion.
“Right now I think our membership is very solid,” Gumbart said in April. “That decision on whether or not we would entertain expansion is one that we feel that we can be pretty picky. If there’s an institution that might strengthen what we are currently doing ... we would certainly look at it. But we don’t feel like there’s any pressure, which is probably the strongest position to be in.”
Bellarmine’s addition makes sense for the conference geographically, as Lipscomb, Kennesaw State and North Alabama are all within a six-hour drive. Four other schools —Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville, North Florida and Stetson — are in the Sunshine State, with NJIT being the conference’s outlier in the northeast.