The last remaining independent in Division I college basketball has reportedly found a home.
As first reported by NJHoops.com, NJIT will join the Atlantic Sun and become that conference’s eighth member beginning with the 2015-16 academic year. According to the Asbury Park Press the school will hold a press conference Friday to make the news official, which is scheduled to begin at Noon Eastern.
For the Atlantic Sun this is an important addition, as the league lost Northern Kentucky to the Horizon League earlier this spring.
As for NJIT, this move gives their programs a conference home they’ve lacked since the Great West (which was a cumbersome grouping of schools) dissolved in 2013. Jim Engles’ work as head basketball coach has been a key component in all of this, as the Highlanders have gone from a team that lost 51 straight games to one that reached the semifinals of the CIT last season.
Last year’s 21-win campaign included a victory at Michigan, a result that made waves nationally.
NJIT also has plans for a $100 million facility that will include a new basketball arena, a project that was used as a selling point as the school attempted to find a home for its athletic programs. While travel will be interesting, given the fact that the other seven members of the A-Sun are located in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, NJIT is in the same city as a major airport.
Even with the presence of said airport, travel is an inconvenience in this. However with NJIT needing a home and the Atlantic Sun needed an eighth member that helps ease some of the scheduling issues its programs may have encountered, this is a move both sides needed to make.