On Friday afternoon, the ASUN officially announced the addition of FCS scholarship football and an expansion of the conference, adding Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, and Jacksonville State.
We are happy to announce the additions of @ucasports, @ekusports and @jsugamecocks into the league!— #ASUNBuilt (@ASUNSports) January 29, 2021
With this expansion, we also introduce FCS Scholarship Football as our 2⃣0⃣th sport! #ASUNBuilt pic.twitter.com/K5TnweSar6
Central Arkansas will be the westernmost school in the conference. Central Arkansas says that the East Coast footprint in recruiting was a big piece of the movement.
The Bears have yet to make a D-1 NCAA Tournament but are the alma mater of NBA legend Scottie Pippen. They have started the season with a 3-12 record but have great future potential with 11 of their 17 rostered players returning next year.
Anthony Boone is in his first full season as UCA’s head coach after finishing off the 2019-20 season with a 9-13 record. They run the 20th fastest adjusted tempo in the country.
Eastern Kentucky is leaving the Ohio Valley Conference, a conference they have been a basketball member of for 73 years.
The Colonels have eight tournament appearances in their history, last making the dance in 2014.
Prospects are high for EKU as their head coach A.W. Hamilton has led them to a stellar 13-2 record this year, improving in all three of his seasons in Richmond.
Along with this, EKU currently has six players averaging double digits. All of them are set to return next season.
The Colonels currently run the 5th fastest adjusted tempo in the country and have a top-five turnover defense in the country. West Virginia transfer Brandon Knapper averages 18.3 points per game and sophomore Michael Moreno ranks in the top 80 of five KenPom categories.
They will play another OVC team joining them in the ASUN, Jacksonville State, in Alabama on Tuesday night.
The Gamecocks began their D-1 career as a member of the ASUN before leaving in 2003 for football-related reasons.
Their long time AD, Greg Seitz, was intrigued when he heard that the league was adding football, and knew he had to be a part of it. They created a rivalry with Kennesaw State in football with their 5OT defeat in 2018, which was named the FCS Game of the Year. One of their oldest rivals, North Alabama, is newly minted D-1 team.
In 2017, Ray Harper took the Gamecocks basketball program to their first NCAA Tournament, and they have been an OVC basketball contender since.
This season, they have started 10-6 and are one of the least experienced teams in the country according to KenPom, which means the future looks bright.
There are more moves on the horizon for the ASUN, but adding three great programs like this will set up for a more competitive ASUN conference in the near future.