What is the timing to move to DI?
Bellarmine will compete in DII in the 2019-20 school year and make the move to compete at the DI level in the 2020-21 school year.
Can Bellarmine compete successfully at the DI level?
Bellarmine already competes effectively in men’s lacrosse and has for 15 years. Bellarmine has a long and distinguished history of success in men’s basketball competing at, or near, the top of DII for many years. In the 2018-19 season alone, the Knights won national titles in track and field, dance and cheer. Men’s basketball and baseball also took conference titles, while men’s and women’s soccer and women’s basketball were conference tourney runners-up. Our coaches have long recruited DI caliber student-athletes who chose to play in DII.
How did you choose which conference to join? Why ASUN?
First, it is important to note that a conference must invite a school to join, and if that invitation is accepted, then the formal application is made to the NCAA to move to DI. We wanted a conference partner that would help realize the priorities of the strategic plan—including providing a transformative student experience, expanding our geographic reach and impact and demonstrating commitment to equity and inclusion.
ASUN offers the opportunity to expand our geographic reach into large metropolitan areas in eastern and southeastern cities beyond our traditional recruiting boundaries. In greatly increasing that recruiting footprint, there is greater opportunity to become a more diverse and inclusive institution. The increased media exposure that accompanies a DI move not only increases our visibility in those large markets but provides additional financial resources to ensure our financial strength and stability.
ASUN also offers us the important opportunity to compete in conference tournaments, such as the NIT, in the first year after the transition to DI. Many other conferences require transitioning schools to wait several years, which can be a detriment to recruiting. (The NCAA does, however, require a four-year transition period before a school can play in the NCAA Tournament.)
Will all of Bellarmine’s sports have a home in the ASUN Conference?
Bellarmine fields 17 sports sponsored by the ASUN Conference. Additionally:
- Men’s lacrosse, which has been a DI program since 2005, will continue as a member of the Southern Conference.
- Men’s and women’s swimming will participate in the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association.
- Field hockey and wrestling will compete in DI with independent status.
How long will it take to be competitive at the DI level?
Transitions are challenging, but that’s the nature of sport. Bellarmine believes in its student-athletes and coaches and we are confident we can establish ourselves quickly as a competitive program. The first two years in a new conference (2020-21 and 2021-22) are anticipated to be the most difficult due to the dynamics of recruitment and limits on post-season play. With each passing year of the reclassification process, these challenges will lessen.
Will Bellarmine be able to handle the increase in costs for DI athletics without affecting other parts of the university?
Yes, BU is committed to close monitoring of athletic expenses in order to continue to promote the academic core of the institution. The construction of a financial plan built around this goal has been an essential part of the exploration of a move to DI. A new development plan is in process to fund the transition cost of specific facility upgrades and operational expenses over the next five years so as not to divert resources from academic programs. Additionally, fundraising for athletics is done in conjunction with the university’s other fundraising efforts, in order to ensure we maximize opportunities and that one does not take away from the other. The administration and Board of Trustees are mindful of athletics expenditures as a percentage of the university’s total budget. In planning for a DI transition, the percentage of the total spend will remain the same.
Will the move to DI require new athletics facilities?
While many aspects of our current facilities are DI-ready, some improvements will be necessary to keep them competitive and improve their revenue-generating potential regardless of competing in DI or DII. Examples are improvements to the baseball and softball complex, to Knights Hall and to our Newburg Sports Complex. These improvements, which are in the design phase now, will improve game broadcasts, heighten fan experience and increase revenue generation.
What impact will this have on alumni?
The transition to DI will enrich the value of a Bellarmine degree for all graduates as BU Athletics increases media coverage and brand awareness for the university. Alumni fans will also benefit from the higher caliber of sporting events and spectator experience resulting from Bellarmine hosting more DI teams on campus for games.
What impact will this have on the local community?
The increased awareness and expanded reach of Bellarmine can beneﬁt the Louisville region significantly. Consider the financial impact of sustained enrollment growth: An increase of 100 students translates into a $3.8 million impact on the local economy. In addition, the city will benefit from more visiting fans staying in area hotels and dining in area restaurants.
Will tuition increase?
Ensuring that a Bellarmine education remains affordable and attainable remains a top priority. Since the finance plan for a DI shift will cap the spending on athletics at the university’s current level, and any needed additional capital will come from fundraising, there should be minimal impact on the university’s tuition structure.
Will Bellarmine add football?
“I get asked that all the time,” Dr. Donovan said at the news conference. Answer: No. Bellarmine currently meets NCAA rules requiring DI members to offer at least 14 sports (at least seven for men and seven for women, or six for men and eight for women). Any potential additions will be assessed to ensure Bellarmine remains compliant with Title IX requirements, but football is not in the picture at this time.