This is part of an ongoing series covering various college realignment news for all three NCAA Divisions as well as the NAIA. The roundup below will cover news and reports since May 15 and provide updates on some previously discussed topics. As a reminder, all official moves starting with the 2023-24 academic year and beyond can be found on our realignment list.
We’ll break out the reports for each Division in the following order: Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, and NAIA. Clicking the links will bring you to that specific section. If a division is not highlighted, there has been no news in the preceding two weeks. We’ve also summarized the news items in a table below if you are more interested in a specific news item.
|School(s)||News Item||Realignment Change / Effective Year||Current Conference||New Conference|
|Abraham Baldwin||Planning to Join NAIA||Yes – 2024-25||NJCAA||TBD (NAIA)|
|Albion||Esports Joining GLEC||Yes – 2023-24||N/A||GLEC (D1/D2/D3/NAIA)|
|Alfred||Adding Baseball||Yes – 2023-24||N/A||Empire 8 (D3)|
|Augustana (SD)||D2 to D1 Possibility||No||N/A||N/A|
|Cleveland State||Esports Joining GLEC||Yes – 2023-24||N/A||GLEC (D1/D2/D3/NAIA)|
|College of the Ozarks||Joining Sooner Athletic Conference||Yes – 2024-25||NCCAA||Sooner Athletic (NAIA)|
|Colorado||Possible Big 12 Target?||No||N/A||N/A|
|Connecticut||Possible Big 12 Target?||No||N/A||N/A|
|East Coast Conference||Adding Men’s Volleyball||Yes – 2023-24||N/A||N/A|
|Edward Waters||Adding Women’s Tennis||Yes – 2023-24||N/A||SIAC (D2)|
|Florida Tech||Adding Men’s Track and Field and Cross Country||Yes – 2023-24||N/A||TBD (D2)|
|Frostburg State||Field Hockey Joining PSAC||Yes – 2024-25||Independent (D2)||PSAC (D2)|
|George Washington||New Nickname||No||N/A||N/A|
|Gonzaga||Linked to Big 12||No||N/A||N/A|
|Heidelberg||Esports Joining GLEC||Yes – 2023-24||N/A||GLEC (D1/D2/D3/NAIA)|
|Idaho||Acquiring University of Phoenix||No – 2024-25||N/A||N/A|
|Mountain West||Adding Women’s Gymnastics||Yes – 2023-24||N/A||N/A|
|Northwest University||Dropping Softball||Yes – 2023-24||CCC (NAIA)||N/A|
|Northwestern Oklahoma State||Adding Track and Field||Yes – 2023-24||N/A||GAC (D2)|
|Olivet||Slight Name Change||No||N/A||N/A|
|Principia||Discontinuing Swimming and Diving||Yes – 2023-24||LAC (D3)||N/A|
|Saint Xavier||Esports Joining GLEC||Yes – 2023-24||N/A||GLEC (D1/D2/D3/NAIA)|
|Savannah State||Will Not Merge or Consolidate||No||N/A||N/A|
|Skyline Conference||New Commissioner||No||N/A||N/A|
|Southern Conference||New Commissioner||No||N/A||N/A|
|Staten Island||Swimming and Diving Joining NE-10||Yes – 2023-24||METS (D2/D3)||NE-10 (D2)|
|Sun Belt||Adding New Sport?||Yes – 2023-24||N/A||N/A|
|West Liberty||Dropping Tennis Programs||Yes – 2023-24||MEC (D2)||N/A|
|William Woods||Adding Football||Yes – 2024-25||N/A||TBD (NAIA)|
Colorado, Connecticut, and Gonzaga to Big 12?
It’s that time of the realignment cycle where the rumor mill begins to swirl and every school not currently in the Big Ten or SEC is linked to a new conference. Let’s start with Colorado to the Big 12 according to The Oklahoman. The Pac-12 is still in the middle of a contract negotiation regarding its TV rights and the Big 12 might be looking to help out some unhappy campers. Of course, Colorado was previously a member of the Big 12 going back to the conference’s beginning in 1996. The Buffaloes left the Big 12 and joined the Pac-12 beginning in the 2011-12 academic year.
Colorado was previously linked to the Big 12 earlier in 2023 along with Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah. That move never came to fruition but one coach believes the current Colorado to the Big 12 rumor is about to happen. We’ll believe it when we see it because the rumors are endless but we won’t discount crazy things from happening (again) in this realignment cycle.
Then there is the Sports Illustrated report saying Connecticut is a possible target for the Big 12. When you pair that with Gonzaga being linked to the Big 12 for the 100th time in the last 18 months, it’s clear what direction the Big 12 is going: basketball is the way forward. The Big 12 has also been linked with San Diego State and UNLV as both schools have strong basketball programs – UNLV historically and San Diego State more recently with the championship game loss earlier in 2023.
As for Colorado in all this, they don’t appear to make any sense on the gridiron or basketball court at face value. That can be overlooked given the historical ties Colorado and the Big 12 have but a closer look at the Colorado basketball team shows some signs of hope. The Buffaloes have spent 12 years in the Pac-12 and have made the NCAA Tournament five times. Compare that to the last 12 years in the Big 12 and Colorado made the tournament just once. No, it’s not the same pedigree as Connecticut, Gonzaga, San Diego State, or UNLV (historically) but the men’s basketball program has improved over the last decade.
Augustana Still Tied to Division 1 Rumor Mill
Augustana (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) is being linked with a move to Division 1… again. It would probably be more accurate to say the embers have reignited this flame with Western Illinois leaving the Summit League to join the Ohio Valley Conference in 2023-24. In fact, we were so certain that Augustana was about to jump up to Division 1 in 2019, we didn’t even bother putting them on our possible FCS teams list. Not a great look four years later.
As for 2023, Augustana was recently tied to the Summit League for the millionth time. Back in 2020, the Summit League shut down Augustana’s hope by declaring it wasn’t looking for new members after they allowed St. Thomas to join. That door might be open again but there are plenty of reasons to put the breaks on according to a recent report. Augustana is “not actively pursuing a Division 1 all-sports conference invite” but they still have a long-term 2030 goal of reaching Division 1. Augustana would make sense geographically but as the report states, the Dakota-centric conference might lead to further departures. Then again, maybe that wouldn’t be the worse thing in the long run for the Summit League as they could find more schools in the upper Midwest to join.
Southern Conference Appoints New Commissioner
The Southern Conference has a new commissioner in Michael Cross, effective on July 1 with the new academic year. Cross has numerous years of experience in the collegiate administration area, most recently with the Knight Commission. Cross has also spent time at Penn State and as the athletic director of Bradley University.
George Washington Has a New Nickname
George Washington University has a new nickname. The school will no longer be called Colonials instead going with Revolutionaries beginning with the 2023-24 academic year. The Revolutionaries nickname was chosen over Ambassadors, Sentinals, and Blue Flog. George Washington is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, which they joined in 1976 when the conference was known as the Eastern Athletic Association.
Idaho Buying University of Phoenix
The University of Idaho is planning to acquire the for-profit and (mostly) online University of Phoenix. Idaho would create a separate non-profit entity to finish the acquisition and the deal would be finalized in early 2024. The deal was subject to approval by the Idaho State Board of Education, which approved the move two days after the announcement. The University of Phoenix will become a non-profit school as a result of this move. The acquisition by Idaho marks the end of a wild month for the University of Phoenix, which saw its attempted acquisition by the University of Arkansas denied by the Arkansas Board of Trustees.
Mountain West Adding Women’s Gymnastics
The Mountain West Conference is adding women’s gymnastics beginning with the 2023-24 academic year. It will be the conference’s 19th sport. The conference will have four members in 2023-24 with Air Force, Boise State, San Jose State, and Utah State participating. Air Force’s gymnastics will leave the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, Boise State, and Utah State will leave the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference, and San Jose State will no longer be an independent.
Sun Belt Adding New Sport?
The Sun Belt Conference is likely to add swimming and diving to its sponsored sports beginning with the 2023-24 academic year. If (read: when) added, it will be the 13th sponsored sport for the Sun Belt. There are only four schools – Georgia Southern (CCSA), James Madison (CCSA), Marshall (MVC), and Old Dominion (CCSA) – that offer swimming and diving but more may be possible now that the Sun Belt is close to sponsoring the sport. JMU Athletic Director Jeff Bourne stated the conference is aiming for six members in the first season meaning at least two schools will join the Sun Belt as an affiliate in swimming and diving.
Division 2 Teams Adding and Dropping Sports
Edward Waters University (Jacksonville, Florida) is adding women’s tennis for the 2023-24 academic year. It will be the 17th sport and the 9th women’s sport offered by the school. EWU is a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and became a full member of the SIAC in 2022-23 after leaving the NAIA ranks. Only three SIAC schools – Allen, Kentucky State, and Miles – do not offer women’s tennis.
Florida Tech (Melbourne, Florida) is adding men’s indoor and outdoor track and field as well as bringing back cross country beginning with the 2023-24 academic year. Bringing back cross country makes Florida Tech the 9th program in the Sunshine State Conference to have the sport with only Eckerd and Rollins not sponsoring it. As for track and field, the SSC does not sponsor the sport as most schools are independent or compete in the Peach Belt Conference.
Northwestern Oklahoma State (Alva, Oklahoma) is also adding men’s track and field for the 2023-24 academic year after a 27-year hiatus. The school already has women’s track and field after they brought it back in 2018-19 after a 30-year absence. The Rangers compete in the Great American Conference.
West Liberty University (West Liberty, West Virginia) has decided to discontinue both men’s and women’s tennis effective immediately. The school cited cost concerns as the main reason and pointed to the lack of fellow teams that sponsor the sport. The school said only six of the 12 Mountain East Conference schools sponsored men’s and women’s tennis. The men’s program competed in the 2022 NCAA Division 2 tennis tournament while the women’s team competed in each of the last two tournaments (2022 and 2023).
East Coast Conference To Sponsor Men’s Volleyball
The East Coast Conference will sponsor its 20th sport in men’s volleyball beginning with the 2023-24 academic year. The first year will have five members with two ECC members – Roberts Wesleyan and St. Thomas Aquinas – and three affiliate members: Alliance University, American International College, and Dominican University (NY). The quartet of Roberts Alliance, Dominican (NY), Roberts Wesleyan, and St. Thomas Aquinas are adding new men’s volleyball beginning in 2023-24. American International has been competing as an independent. The conference will need at least one additional member in order to obtain an automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Frostburg State Field Hockey Joins the PSAC
Frostburg State (Frostburg, Maryland) will join the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in 2024-25 as an associate member for field hockey. Frostburg State competes as an independent team in field hockey and has done so since the transition from Division 3 to Division 2 beginning in 2019-20. The Bobcats are a full member of the Mountain East Conference, which does not sponsor field hockey.
Northeast-10 Adds College of Staten Island as Associate Member
The Dolphins of Le Moyne may be leaving the Northeast-10 Conference but the Dolphins of the College of Staten Island (Staten Island, New York) will be replacing them… in a much smaller context. Staten Island is joining the NE-10 as an associate member in swimming and diving effective with the 2023-24 academic year. Staten Island will replace Le Moyne in swimming and diving leaving no change to the membership numbers (seven for men and eight for women). Staten Island competes as a full member of the East Coast Conference and both swimming and diving programs are in the Metropolitan Swimming Conference.
Savannah State Changes Not on the Horizon
Recent layoffs at Savannah State University led some to ponder the future of the school. According to the University System of Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue, nothing will be happening. Perdue specifically said that Savannah State will not be consolidated or merged with another institution. There has been some internal strife at SSU with leadership not instilling great confidence and worries combined with the layoffs. For now, Savannah State will not undergo any changes.
Division 3 Skyline Conference Welcomes New Commissioner
Melissa Reilly has been named as the next commissioner of the Skyline Conference and will take over beginning July 1, 2023. Reilly will leave her post as the Senior Associate Commissioner of the East Coast Conference and take over for Linda Bruno, who presided over the Skyline for a dozen years. The Skyline Conference is comprised of 12 full members with all of them located in the state of New York.
Division 3 Teams Sport Changes
Alfred University (Alfred, New York) is bringing back baseball as a varsity sport effective with the 2023-24 academic year. The school is a full member of the Empire 8 conference and the baseball team will be a member of the Empire 8. Alfred had a club baseball team but the recently announced closure of Medaille helped bring the sport back sooner than anticipated according to the press release.
Principia College (Elsah, Illinois) has decided to discontinue its swimming and diving program for the foreseeable future. Principia is a full member of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference but the SLIAC doesn’t sponsor swimming and diving. As a result, Principia was a member of the Liberal Arts Conference but membership in that conference has dwindled from 13 schools to only five.
Olivet Changes Name
Olivet College (Olivet, Michigan) will change its name to The University of Olivet beginning with the 2023-24 academic year as part of the school’s 2030 vision plan. The school will have a new logo (one that honestly looks better than the old logo) but the Comets nickname will not change. Olivet is a member of the Division 3 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and will remain in the MIAA.
NAIA’s Northwest University Dropping Softball
Northwest University (Kirkland, Washington) has discontinued the school’s softball program effective immediately. The softball team has not posted a winning record in over a decade but the 2023 squad managed a 21-28 record, which was a five-win improvement over the 2022 squad and a 13-win improvement over 2021. The Eagles are a full member of the Cascade Collegiate Conference in the NAIA. The CCC now has two schools without softball programs – Northwest and Walla Walla.
College of the Ozarks Finds a Future NAIA Home
Back in April, we noted in our Realignment Report that the College of the Ozarks would return to the NAIA in 2023-24. A month later, we found out which conference they will call home: the Sooner Athletic Conference. The Bobcats will join the SAC in 2024-25 to give them 13 full members, assuming there are no further realignment moves. College of the Ozarks left the NAIA after the 2020-21 academic year to become a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA).
Abraham Baldwin Has Plans to Join NAIA
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (Tifton, Georgia) is planning to join the NAIA beginning with the 2024-25 academic year according to an article in The Moultrie Observer. ABAC’s athletic director Chuck Wimberly shared the school’s vision for the next few years. The Stallions will remember a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) for 2023-24 in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association and then begin the move to the NAIA in 2024-25. The move to the NAIA will coincide with the return of both men’s and women’s basketball, which will debut the same year. ABAC is hoping to join the Southern States Athletic Conference when it moves to the NAIA.
Saint Xavier Joining GLEC for Esports
Saint Xavier (Chicago, Illinois) is joining the Great Lakes Esports Conference beginning with the 2023-24 academic year. The Cougars completed their first year of varsity esports in 2022-23 and were accepted into the GLEC along with Albion College, Cleveland State, and Heidelberg University. The GLEC is made up of numerous institutions in the Great Lakes ranging from Division 1 to Division 3. Saint Xavier is a full member of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, which does not sponsor Esports.
William Woods Adding Football
William Woods (Fulton, Missouri) announced it will add football beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. The school will also add women’s flag football, which will begin in the 2025 season. WWU is a member of the American Midwest Conference but the AMC doesn’t sponsor football. The Owls did not provide its future home for football but did reiterate that it would not leave the AMC despite adding football.
Photo courtesy of Colorado Athletics