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 December 31, 2023, and provide updates on previously discussed topics. As a reminder, all official moves starting with the 2023-24 academic year can be found here while anything happening in 2024-25 or later can be found here.

We’ll break out the reports for each Division in the following order: Division 1Division 2Division 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 summary or specific news item rather than having to scroll to find it.

School(s)News ItemRealignment Change / Effective YearCurrent ConferenceNew Conference
ACCBringing back Men’s Lacrosse TournamentNoN/AN/A
ArizonaNo Cuts to Athletic ProgramsNoN/AN/A
Ave MariaAdding Pickleball
Yes – 2024-25N/ATBD
AvilaAdding TennisYes – 2024-25N/AKCAC (NAIA)
Bellevue (NE)NSAA DisbandingYes – 2025-26NSAA (NAIA)TBD (NAIA)
ClemsonAdding Club Hockey TeamYes – 2024-25N/ACHS (AAU)
College Football PlayoffNearing Deal with ESPNNoN/AN/A
Dakota StateNSAA DisbandingYes – 2025-26NSAA (NAIA)TBD (NAIA)
Dickinson StateNSAA DisbandingYes – 2025-26NSAA (NAIA)Frontier (NAIA)
DruryMoving STUNT to NCAA SportYes – 2024-25N/AN/A
East Coast ConferenceCommish Stepping DownNoN/AN/A
Heart of AmericaNew CommissionerNoN/AN/A
HillbertAdding Women’s GolfYes – 2024-25N/ATBD
JessupAdding Men’s VolleyballYes – TBDN/AMPSF (D1)
John CarrollJoining NCACYes – 2025-26OAC (D3)NCAC (D3)
Mayville StateNSAA DisbandingYes – 2025-26NSAA (NAIA)TBD (NAIA)
Middle Georgia StateJoining Peach BeltYes – 2025-26SSAC (NAIA)Peach Belt (D2)
Mississippi University for WomenNew Name ProposedNo – 2024-25N/AN/A
Missouri BaptistJoining HAACYes – 2025-26American Midwest (NAIA)HAAC (NAIA)
NCAANew Championship DealNo – 2024-25N/AN/A
NCAA D2 ChampionshipsAQ Bid ProposalsNo – 2024-25N/AN/A
NCAA D3 Football BracketPossible ExpansionNoN/AN/A
Penn State BrandywineJoining United EastYes – 2024-25USCAAUnited East (D3)
Point ParkJoining MECYes – 2024-25River States (NAIA)Mountain East (D2)
SIACNew Media Rights DealNo – 2024-25N/AN/A
SimpsonAdding Acrobatics & TumblingYes – 2024-25N/ATBD
Spring ArborAdding EsportsYes – 2024-25N/ANACE (Multiple levels)
St. John FisherAdding Hockey ProgramsYes – 2025-26N/ATBD (D3)
UC MercedWater Polo Joining WWPAYes – 2024-25Cal Pac (NAIA)WWPA (D2)
Valley City StateNSAA DisbandingYes – 2025-26NSAA (NAIA)TBD (NAIA)
ViterboNSAA DisbandingYes – 2025-26NSAA (NAIA)CCAC (NAIA)
WaldorfNSAA DisbandingYes – 2025-26NSAA (NAIA)GPAC (NAIA)
WashburnAdding Women’s GolfYes – 2024-25N/AMIAA (D2)

ESPN Close to New TV Rights Deal for College Football Playoff

ESPN is close to securing the media rights to the College Football Playoff according to… ESPN’s Pete Thamel. The deal would be worth $1.3 billion per year over eight years – the two final years of the current contract and six additional years beginning in 2026. That would nearly triple the amount of the previous contract, which was valued at $470 million per year. (Note, it’s currently unclear if all 8 years would pay $1.3 billion per year or if that figure starts in 2026).

ESPN would be the sole rights holder and it might be possible that they could sublicense some games to other networks such as Fox, CBS, or Amazon. Any sublicenses would require approval from the school presidents involved with the CFP. The College Football Playoff will expand from 4 teams to 12 teams beginning with the 2024 season.

NCAA and ESPN Agree to New Media Deal for Championships

The NCAA and ESPN have agreed to a new 8-year deal in which ESPN will broadcast 40 championships across its networks. The deal runs from 2024-25 through 2031-32 worth an annual amount of $115 million ($920 million across the entire agreement). There will be an increased visibility for women’s sports but the NCAA opted not to separate the women’s basketball championship from the package. The men’s Division 1 basketball tournament and the College Football Playoffs are omitted as those contracts are negotiated separately. More thoughts and information are provided here.

Arizona Not Planning to Eliminate Sports

Back in November 2023, it was revealed that a forecasting error at the University of Arizona put them in a precarious financial position. At the time, the school only had 97 days of cash reserves and some wondered whether athletic programs might be on the chopping block. According to Arizona, the answer is no for the immediate future although plans can change further down the line, especially with realignment and structural NCAA changes on the horizon.

NCAA Division 1 Sports Changes

The ACC is bringing back the men’s lacrosse tournament this season with a 4-team bracket. The top four teams will compete for the title on May 3 and May 5, 2024. The ACC stopped conducting a conference tournament following the 2019 season.

Clemson is adding a second club hockey team beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. The other Tigers’ club hockey team competes in Division 2 of the College Hockey South (CHS) with the new program joining Division 3. The CHS is part of the Amateur Athletic Union. There are hopes the club hockey teams can eventually move to the NCAA Division 1 level but there are no concrete plans to make that a reality at this time.

NCAA Division 2 Championship Changes

NCAA Division 2 has voted for numerous changes to its championships, which will be effective with the 2024-25 academic year. Football can now have games take place in “Week 0” which will allow schools to have 11 games over 12 weeks. One proposal that failed was to allow all football conferences to have an automatic qualifying bid to the Division 2 playoffs. A similar proposal that would allow all sports other than football to be granted an AQ bid to its NCAA-specific championship was approved. In turn, AQs will now be allowed to take up a maximum of 60% of the bids with tournament expansions possible if a 50% threshold is breached. This may lead to more schools adding sports programs with a guaranteed path to an NCAA championship.

NCAA Division 2 Sports Changes

Drury University (Springfield, Missouri) will upgrade its STUNT program to an NCAA sport beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. Drury started sponsoring STUNT in 2018, making it a non-NCAA sport in 2021. It is unknown which conference, if any, Drury will compete in for STUNT. Drury is a full member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Jessup University (Rocklin, California) is adding men’s volleyball as a varsity sport and will join the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF). The press release did not state when the team would begin to compete. Jessup is currently in the NAIA’s Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) but is joining NCAA Division 2’s Pacific West Conference beginning in 2024-25. The men’s volleyball team will compete in NCAA Division 1 as part of the MPSF against the likes of BYU, Stanford, UCLA, and USC among other programs.

UC Merced (Merced, California) will join the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. The Bobcats are leaving the NAIA’s California Pacific Conference (CalPac) to join NCAA Division 2 and the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). UC Merced will compete in the WWPA in 2024-25 but will not be eligible to compete in the WWPA’s Championship until 2025-26. The move will give the WWPA 8 men’s programs and 9 women’s programs.

Washburn University (Topeka, Kansas) is adding women’s golf beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. It is the school’s 17th varsity sport and the team will compete in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA). Washburn is a full member of the MIAA and is the 12th team in the conference to sponsor the sport. Only Emporia State and Pittsburg State from the MIAA will not sponsor women’s golf in 2024-25.

Point Park Joining Mountain East

Point Park University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is leaving the NAIA to join NCAA Division 2 beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. The reclassification process will take three years meaning PPU will be eligible for NCAA D2 championships beginning in 2027-28. The Pioneers are currently a member of the River States Conference and will join the Mountain East Conference. PPU will become the 12th member of the MEC and will be adding four sports over the next two years.

Middle Georgia State Joining Peach Belt

Middle Georgia State University (Macon, Georgia) will join the Peach Belt Conference beginning with the 2025-26 academic year. The Knights are currently a member of the NAIA’s Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) and would undertake the same three-year reclassification process as Point Park. MGA would be eligible for NCAA D2 championships beginning with the 2028-29 academic year. The move by MGA will put both the SSAC and the Peach Belt at 11 full members assuming no further realignment changes occur.

East Coast Conference Commissioner Bob Dranoff Stepping Down

Bob Dranoff will step down from his role as Commissioner of the East Coast Conference after the 2023-24 academic year on June 30, 2024. Dranoff has been in charge since 2008 and has seen several changes in membership during his tenure. Since 2008, five schools have joined the ECC as full members: the University of the District of Columbia (2011), Roberts Wesleyan (2012), Daeman (2013), D’Youville (2020), and College of Staten Island (2020). Four schools left the ECC including Dowling (closed in 2016), Long Island-Post (merged with Brooklyn Campus in 2019), New York Institute of Technology (suspended athletics after the 2019-20 year), and Bridgeport (2022). The ECC is comprised of 9 full members with 8 located in New York state and the ninth in Washington D.C.

SIAC Signs New Rights Deal

The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) has signed a new rights deal with HBCU Go and Allen Media Group that will last through the 2031-32 academic year. The agreement gives HBCU Go and AMG the right to broadcast and stream all regular-season SIAC events. There is already a plan to broadcast some games on CBS stations in major markets.

NCAA Division 3 Football Championship May See Expansion

NCAA D3 will see an increase of $4 million annually as part of the latest TV rights agreement between ESPN and the NCAA. As a result, the D3 football bracket is likely to expand from 32 teams to 40. The timing of when the expansion might happen is unclear right now but D3Football took a stab at how a 40-team bracket would have looked for 2023. If the changes occur, the Stagg Bowl will be played after the new year.

NCAA Division 3 Sports Changes

Hilbert College (Hamburg, New York) is adding women’s golf beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. It is not known which conference Hilbert will compete in as the school’s primary conference – the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) – does not sponsor the sport. Five schools in the AMCC have a women’s golf program including Carlow, Hilbert, Mount Aloysius, Penn State-Altoona, and Penn State-Erie.

Simpson College (Indianola, Iowa) is adding acrobatics & tumbling beginning with the 2024-25 academic year although competition will not begin until the following year (2025-26). Simpson will be the 11th NCAA Division 3 program to compete in acrobatics & tumbling. Simpson is a full member of the American Rivers Conference.

St. John Fisher (Pittsford, New York) is adding men’s and women’s hockey programs beginning with the 2025-26 academic year. The Cardinals compete in the Empire 8 Conference but the E8 doesn’t sponsor hockey. St. John Fisher will provide further details on conference affiliation at a later date.

John Carroll and Penn State Brandywine Join New Conferences

John Carroll University (University Heights, Ohio) is leaping out of the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) and into the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC). JCU will join the NCAC beginning with the 2025-26 academic year giving the NCAC 10 full members and dropping the OAC to 9 full members. While JCU is often in the shadow of Mount Union in football, it is unclear whether that is the main reason for the change. However, John Carroll’s football team will benefit from leaving Mount Union’s shadow when they join the NCAC. There is likely to be another change involving the NCAC but it will not be Rose-Hulman.

Another team made a conference change in Division 3 with Penn State Brandywine moving to the United East Conference beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. Brandywine is spending the 2023-24 academic year as an exploratory member of D3 and competes in the United States College Athletic Association (USCAA). The Nittany Lions will become the 18th member of the UEC, which merged with the Colonial States Athletic Conference in 2023-24.

Mississippi University for Women Changes Name

The Mississippi University for Women plans to change its name to Mississippi Brightwell University effective on July 1, 2024. The name change is subject to approval by the state legislature. Located in Columbus, Mississippi the school is a full member of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) having joined beginning with the 2023-24 academic year. MUW suspended athletics from 2002 through the 2016-17 academic year due to a tornado that severely damaged the primary athletics building. At the time, MUW was in the Division 2 Gulf South Conference.

NAIA Sports Changes

Ave Maria University (Ave Maria, Florida) is adding men’s and women’s pickleball teams as varsity sports beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. It is one of the first schools (maybe the first?) at the NCAA or NAIA levels to add the sport at a varsity level. It is not clear which conference, if any, Ave Maria will compete in. Pickleball has seen a rapid rise in popularity and more colleges may add the sport to help boost enrollment.

Avila University (Kansas City, Missouri) is adding men’s and women’s tennis beginning with the 2024-25 academic year to bring the number of sports offered up to 16. Avila is a full member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC), which is where both programs will compete.

Spring Arbor University (Spring Arbor, Michigan) will add Esports as a varsity sport beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. The sport will compete in the National Association of Collegiate Esports, which features teams from the NCAA Division 1, 2, and 3, the NAIA, and junior colleges. The addition of Esports will give the Cougars 21 varsity sports programs. SAU is a full member of the Crossroads League.

NSAA Disbanding

The North Star Athletic Association will disband after the 2024-25 academic year. The conference has been struggling to maintain its members with recently announced departures leaving the NSAA with four full members in 2025-26. Dickinson State announced it would leave after the 2024-25 academic year to rejoin the Frontier Conference. Viterbo announced in October it was leaving the NSAA after the 2023-24 academic year to join the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC). Waldorf announced it was headed to the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) after the 2023-24 academic year.

Four current NSAA schools will need to find a new conference beginning with the 2025-26 academic year. Bellevue (Nebraska), Dakota State (Madison, South Dakota), Mayville State (North Dakota), and Valley City (North Dakota) are temporarily homeless in conference realignment. The University of Jamestown (North Dakota) will be a member of the NSAA for the 2024-25 academic year but the Jimmies already announced they are joining NCAA Division 2 starting in 2025-26. Valley City State may follow Jamestown to NCAA Division 2 as the school evaluates all its options.

Missouri Baptist Intends to Join HAAC; HAAC Appoints New Commissioner

Missouri Baptist University (Creve Coeur, Missouri) plans to join the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) beginning with the 2025-26 academic year. The school is currently a member of the American Midwest Conference. MBU would become the 14th member of the HAAC while the AMC would be at 11 full members when the Spartans depart.

Helping oversee Missouri Baptist’s eventual move to the HAAC is the new commissioner Nik Rule. Rule will take over for Lori Thomas who announced her resignation in October 2023. Rule starts on February 1 following seven years as the athletic director at William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Photo Courtesy of Michigan Athletics Twitter

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