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It's Official: Northern Kentucky is Eligible for March Madness & Other Postseason Play

Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has been granted active status as a Division I institution by the NCAA.

“This is an exciting day for Northern Kentucky University,” said NKU President Geoffrey S. Mearns. “I would like to thank each member of the NKU community, as well as our supporters throughout the region, who worked to make this possible. I am particularly proud that the NCAA committee which oversaw the four-year reclassification process commended our commitment to excellence every step of the way. As with everything that we do, we did not strive to merely meet the minimum requirements—we fulfilled our promise to lead with excellence, and will continue to do so."

With active status Northern Kentucky is a full Division I member and NKU’s student-athletes have the opportunity to compete for berths into NCAA Championships.

“This is a special moment for the University, department of athletics and our student-athletes,” said Ken Bothof, Director of Athletics. “The move to Division I athletics provides the platform for our student-athletes to compete at the highest level of collegiate athletics. Thank you to the former student-athletes, coaches and administrators who built the foundation that put us in the position for both current and future Norse to experience success at this level. It’s a great day to be a Norse.”

NKU’s transition to Division I status came after a successful run at the DII level that included three national championships – two in women’s basketball and one in men’s soccer – as well as numerous regional and conference titles across all seventeen programs.

In a press conference on Dec. 8, 2011, Northern Kentucky announced its plan to move to Division I. The Norse started the four-year reclassification process with the opening of the 2012-13 campaign.

Northern Kentucky’s programs experienced substantial success during that period, which culminated this year as members of the Horizon League. Not only did the men’s basketball team exceed expectations in the league last season, but the women’s basketball program secured its 33rd-conseuctive winning campaign and fourth-straight appearance in the Women’s Basketball Invitational.

Women’s soccer, volleyball and women’s basketball also reached the semifinals of their league tournaments, while women’s soccer player Macy Hamblin was named the Horizon League Player of the Year, league Offensive Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Soccer News Net College Boot Award presented to the national player of the year. Emily Grubb was named the Most Outstanding Field Performer at this year’s Horizon League outdoor track & field championship. And, the women’s golf team claimed a runner-up showing in its league championship, finishing a mere three strokes shy of first-place.

“As someone who has been here since year one of the transition, it is an incredible honor to be able to compete for a chance to play in the NCAA tournament this year,” said Taylor Snyder, a redshirt-senior setter for the volleyball team. “It is something I’ve looked forward to since the first day I arrived on campus freshman year! NKU and NKU Athletics have grown tremendously over the four-year transition period and I’m very excited to see what we will accomplish this year.”

Northern Kentucky is entering its second year in the Horizon League and its fifth year playing Division I schedules in all sports.

What They’re Saying

“On behalf of the member institutions of the Horizon League, we welcome Northern Kentucky University as an active member of Division I. As our 10th member beginning July of 2015, the Norse brought us a competitive and aspirational program in a dynamic geographic location. We are excited to be a part of Northern Kentucky’s future growth.” - Jon Lecrone, Commissioner, Horizon League

“Growing up as a young man in the Northern Kentucky region and watching a Division II program that was really successful in both academics and athletics, I take a lot of pride in seeing the growth into a Division I program. Receiving active status from the NCAA is the final piece of the transition. Everyone wants to compete for championships. It provides a tremendous challenge and great goal for our men’s basketball program. It gives us even more national exposure.” - John Brannen, Men’s Basketball Head Coach

“We’ve had numerous people talk to us about the transition to Division I. People recognize that NKU is a Division I university. This is a Division I basketball program. Gaining active status as Division I members is exciting for this community because they have loyally supported Norse Athletics and our program.” - Camryn Whitaker, Women’s Basketball Head Coach

“I was fortunate when I was in high school to frequently come to this campus and practice. That led to my decision to come play here in 2004 and I’ve seen many changes here since then. There’s so many resources that we’re able to provide our athletes now. It’s so neat that not only are we able to help them develop on the court and improve as players in their sport, but we can help them grow as individuals and become well-rounded. And, we’re able to do that within the athletic department.” - Liz Hart, Volleyball Head Coach

"Following our four years of intense self-reflection under the guidance of the NCAA, we can all be proud that our student-athletes have the support and resources and are prepared to compete athletically at the highest level with our peer institutions, and to meet the increased academic standards of the NCAA Division I.  The communities and fans in the northern Kentucky area can now take pride and support our teams as they compete at the highest level of intercollegiate sports." - Dr. Mary Kirk, NKU Faculty-Athletic Representative to the NCAA

"This is a great opportunity to recognize the culmination of continued hard work and dedication to NKU by our students, faculty, staff and administrators. This is our time, this is our year, we are on the RISE! Norse Nation, I challenge you this year to be bold and bleed gold. Next up is our invitation to March Madness!" - Will Weber, Northern Kentucky University SGA President

“The opportunity to play and succeed in the NCAA Tournament is one of our main team goals this year and, honestly, I think everyone on the team is excited and ready for the upcoming season to start.” - Kelley Weigeman (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mother of Mercy), Women’s Basketball Player

“For me personally, this means so much. I’ve always dreamed of competing in the NCAA Tournament and now to finally have that opportunity, it’s amazing. Having my senior year be the year to be able to compete for the University’s first NCAA Tournament is special and something that excites me immensely. As a team, we are thrilled and eager to get out there and compete knowing that we have the same ultimate goal that every other Division I program has. It is one of the reasons why we worked so hard in the summer. It should be an exciting year!” - Cole Murray (Delphi, Ind./Delphi), Men’s Basketball Player

"It’s an exciting time. In my three years here, I have seen NKU prepare for this. From the facilities to the athletes, everything has been stepped up a notch. Being able to compete at the highest level without any restrictions gives us motivation when preparing for competition, and it also gives excitement to the university as a whole.” - Kyle Colletta (Lincolnwood, Ill. / Niles West), Baseball Player

-Staff report

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