N.J.I.T Set to Join the Atlantic Sun Conference

N.J.I.T. is independent no more, as they will become a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. (Source: N.J.I.T. Athletics)
N.J.I.T. is independent no more, as they will become a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. (Source: N.J.I.T. Athletics)

The 2014-15 basketball season was one to remember for the Highlanders out of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

The Highlanders were the NCAA’s only ‘independent’ team, meaning they were the only team to not have a conference to call home. They had been that way for two seasons, ever since the Great West Conference was eliminated before the 2013-14 season.

In 2014-15, the Highlanders played their way to an impressive 21 – 12 record. With that, they accepted an invitation into the 2015 CollegeInsider.Com tournament, where they would continue their strong play and advance to the semi-finals. They took down strong teams in New Hampshire, Vermont and Canisius before getting knocked off by Northern Arizona in the semi-finals.

The highlight of their season came back on December 6th, when they took on their first-ever ranked opponent. As a smaller school, it’s been hard for them to schedule marquee opponents. They went on the road to face the then-17th ranked Michigan Wolverines, and came away with the biggest win in school history. The Highlanders came away with a hard-fought 72 – 70 win, and sent shockwaves through the NCAA.

After their strong season, and conference shakeups around the country, people were all hoping that the Highlanders would get scooped up by a conference.

On Friday, their wish will come true, as N.J.I.T. will become a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.

On Friday, June 12th, the N.J.I.T. Highlanders will hold a press conference to announce that they will become the newest members of the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Over the past two seasons, the Atlantic Sun Conference, which is based out of Macon, GA, has undergone a major overhaul. Before the 2014-15 season, the Mercer Bears and the East Tennessee State Buccaneers moved to the Southern Conference. Earlier this off-season, it was announced that Northern Kentucky was also on the move, as they took up membership in the Horizon League.

With Northern Kentucky on the way out, the Atlantic Sun only had seven members: Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville, North Florida, Lipscomb, USC Upstate, and Kennesaw State. The addition of the Highlanders pushes the conference back up to eight teams.

With a strong returning class, headlined by Damon Lynn, Ky Howard and Tim Coleman, among others, the Highlanders are poised for an even bigger season in 2015-16. They will look to build off the success of this past season, and make some noise in their new conference over the next few years.

Basketball fans everywhere got their wish. and the Highlanders now have a home. Thank you to the Atlantic Sun Conference, for doing what everyone wanted to see happen.

– T.B.

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