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 June 15, 2024, 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 changes 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)/ConferenceNews ItemRealignment Change / Effective YearCurrent ConferenceNew Conference
American Rivers ConferenceAdding Women’s WrestlingYes – 2024-25N/AN/A
Bacone CollegeFiled for BankruptcyTBDN/AN/A
Barton CollegeAdding Women’s Field HockeyYes – 2025-26N/AIndependent (D2)
Big EastNew Media Deal AnnouncedNo – 2025-26N/AN/A
Columbia College (SC)Adding CheerleadingYes – 2024-25N/ATBD (NAIA)
Division 3Championship Criteria WaiverYes – 2024-25N/AN/A
East StroudsburgAcrobatics & Tumbling Will Become STUNTYes – 2024-25N/AN/A
Eastern NazareneSchool ClosingYes – 2024-25NAC (D3)N/A
Empire 8Football Agreement with Liberty LeagueYes – 2025-26N/AN/A
Hesston CollegeLooking to Join NAIATBD – 2025-26NJCAATBD (NAIA)
Hilbert CollegeFootball Joining Liberty LeagueYes – 2025-26Empire 8 (D3)Liberty League (D3)
Liberty LeagueFootball Agreement with Empire 8Yes – 2025-26N/AN/A
Little East ConferenceWomen’s Hockey Waiver DeniedNoN/AN/A
March MadnessTournament May ExpandTBD – 2025-26?N/AN/A
Peach Belt and RMACPartnering for Men’s Lacrosse AQ BidYes – 2024-25 and 2025-26N/AN/A
Penn State SchuylkillLeaving/Left NAIA?Yes? – 2024-25CAC (NAIA)USCAA
SalisburyField Hockey to SUNYACYes – 2025-26C2C (D3)SUNYAC (D3)
Simpson (CA)Beach Volleyball to CCCYes – 2024-25Cal Pac (NAIA)Cascade (NAIA)
Stagg Bowl (D3)New Venue for National ChampionshipNo – 2024-25N/AN/A
Tennessee StateMen’s Hockey Will be D1 IndependentYes – 2025-26Club TeamIndependent (D1)
University of LynchburgAdding Men’s WrestlingYes – 2025-26N/AODAC (D3)
WCHACommissioner ResigningNo – 2024-25N/AN/A

March Madness Looks to Expand

The crown jewel of NCAA athletics may be expanding soon according to Ross Dellenger of Yahoo Sports. Dellenger is reporting that the field for the men’s basketball tournament will increase from 68 teams to 72 or 76 as soon as the 2025-26 season. In addition, the women’s tournament would also likely increase alongside the men’s tournament. The tournament not expanding also remains a possibility.

Opinion: Expansion isn’t surprising and has been discussed before with the Big Ten and SEC leading those talks previously. Even less surprising is the speed of the expansion news, just weeks after the NCAA agreed to settle the House, Hubbard, and Carter lawsuits for $3 billion in the near term and $15 billion over the next 10 years. The NCAA and its members were always going to seek a way to obtain more revenue like offering sponsorships but the interesting thing is that CBS and Turner Sports are under no obligation to increase the payout with expansion. It’s a curious decision to potentially give CBS and Turner what amounts to a discount on the contract by increasing the number of already lucrative games.

Of course, the biggest potential issue with the expansion is how the extra bids will be distributed. Will they be given to Power 4 programs? Or will it allow some of the more deserving mid-majors to make the field? Will the additional play-in games be played between automatic bids? Will it feature more mid-major matchups that favor the P4 teams? A lot of questions surround the expansion and clear answers don’t exist as each season will present a different set of teams and circumstances that lead to the always contentious at-large bids.

Big East Finalizes New Media Deal

The Big East has finalized its new media deal that will run from 2025-26 through the 2030-31 academic year. The conference has partnered with Fox Sports, NBC Sports, and TNT Sports to televise its games with former TV partner CBS Sports noticeably absent. The NBC Sports portion will include games being streamed on Peacock with that network having 25 games in 2024-25 along with five basketball conference tournament games. In 2025-26, that number will increase to 60 men’s and women’s events to be shown on NBC Sports and Peacock. Sportico is reporting that the upcoming deal is worth $450 – $500 million over the 6-year contract ($75 – $80 million per year), which is a step up from the $500 million total for the previous 12-year deal ($41.7 million per year).

WCHA Commissioner Tracy Dill Resigns

Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Commissioner Tracy Dill has resigned two years after taking over the post. Dill signed a two-year extension last month that would have kept him as Commissioner through the 2025-26 academic year. The WCHA is a women’s hockey conference consisting of Bemidji State (Minnesota), Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota State-Mankato, Ohio State, St. Cloud State (Minnesota), St. Thomas (Minnesota), and Wisconsin.

NCAA Division 1 Sports Changes

Tennessee State announced it will play its inaugural men’s hockey season as a Division 1 independent. The Tigers announced the addition of a men’s hockey team in June 2023 with plans to start at the club level. TSU will compete at the club level for the 2024-25 academic year and become an NCAA Division 1 independent beginning with the 2025-26 academic year.

NCAA Division 2 Sports Changes

The Peach Belt and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conferences will have a men’s lacrosse partnership for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 academic years that will allow all teams to have a chance to receive an automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament. Neither conference has the minimum of six teams needed to qualify for an AQ bid. The Peach Belt has four teams – Alabama-Huntsville, Flagler, Lander, and Montevallo – while the RMAC has five teams – Adams State, Colorado Mesa, Concordia-Irvine, Dominican (CA), and Westminster University. The two conferences will compete in separate regular season and conference tournaments with the winners of each tournament facing off for the AQ bid.

Barton College (Wilson, North Carolina) is adding women’s field hockey beginning with the 2025-26 academic year. The release noted that Barton wants to compete in the Conference Carolinas starting in 2026-27, indicating the first year will be spent as an independent. The Conference Carolinas does not sponsor women’s field hockey and only four members – Barton, Belmont Abbey, Converse, and Ferrum – sponsor the sport. The conference will likely seek affiliate memberships (or convince current members to start a program) and begin sponsoring women’s field hockey.

East Stroudsburg University (East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania) will transition its acrobatics and tumbling program into a STUNT program beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. The acrobatics & tumbling team participated in 10 meets during the 2023-24 academic year, winning five of them against competition from all levels of the NCAA.

Salisbury University (Salisbury, Maryland) will move its women’s field hockey team from the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference (C2C) to the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) beginning with the 2025-26 academic year. The move will give the SUNYAC six members as Salisbury will join Cortland, Morrisville, New Paltz, Oneonta, and Oswego. Salisbury is a primary member of the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference.

NCAA Division 3 Sports Changes

The Division 3 Championships Committee is seeking to remove one of the key criteria – the proximity of teams – from the NCAA Championships for two years. The current rule focuses on teams within a 500-mile radius when determining matchups and this waiver would allow the committee to become more flexible with seedings and pairings. The change would start with the 2024-25 academic year.

The Little East Conference’s waiver request for the two-year waiting period to receive an automatic qualifying bid to the women’s hockey NCAA Championship has been denied. The LEC will begin competition in 2025-26 and will be eligible to receive an AQ bid beginning with the 2027-28 academic year.

The Committee also noted that UT Dallas will be counted as a D3 opponent in the American Southwest Conference for the 2024-25 academic year. This will not be the case if UTD is accepted into the NCAA’s new expedited membership process as the school is moving to the NCAA Division 2 Lone Star Conference beginning with the 2025-26 academic year.

The NCAA Division 3 football National Championship (the Stagg Bowl) is moving to Houston, Texas for the 2024-25 season. The D3 playoffs are expanding to 40 teams starting in 2024 and the additional weekend will push the Stagg Bowl to Saturday, January 4, 2025.

The American Rivers Conference will start sponsoring women’s wrestling beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. Buena Vista, Central College, Dubuque, Loras College, Simpson College, and Wartburg will compete in the ARC’s inaugural season of women’s wrestling.

Hilbert College (Hamburg, New York) will move its football program to the Liberty League beginning with the 2025-26 academic year. Hilbert is already moving from NCAA Division 3 Independent Status to the Empire 8 in football beginning with the 2024-25 academic year but that stay will last only one year. In addition to the Hilbert move, the Empire 8 and Liberty League will have a non-conference scheduling agreement in place for the 2025 and 2026 seasons.

The University of Lynchburg (Lynchburg, Virginia) will add men’s wrestling beginning with the 2025-26 academic year. Lynchburg is a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, which is where the men’s wrestling program will compete. The Hornets will compete against fellow ODAC members Averett, Roanoke, Shenandoah, and Washington and Lee as well as associate members Greensboro College and Southern Virginia.

Eastern Nazarene Closing

Eastern Nazarene College (Quincy, Massachusetts) will close by the end of the 2024 calendar year. The college has cited financial difficulties as the main reason and will have teach-out agreements with Gordon College (Wenham, Massachusetts), Mount Vernon Nazarene University (Mount Vernon, Ohio), and Trevecca Nazarene University (Nashville, Tennessee). The Lions are a member of the North Atlantic Conference.

NAIA Sports Changes

Columbia College (Columbia, South Carolina) is adding cheerleading beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. Columbia is a full member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference.

Simpson University (Redding, California) is joining the Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC) for women’s beach volleyball beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. The Red Hawks are a primary member of the California Pacific Conference (Cal Pac), where they previously competed in beach volleyball. Westcliff University is the lone remaining member of the Cal Pac in beach volleyball. The CCC will begin hosting a conference tournament to determine the recipient of the automatic bid to the NAIA tournament.

Bacone College Files for Bankruptcy

Bacone College (Muskogee, Oklahoma) has filed for bankruptcy but does not plan to close. The school was previously put up for auction in December 2023 but that auction was postponed. While the college is not closing, it will spend the 2024-25 academic year reorganizing itself. Bacone declared $2 million in outstanding debt that it cannot pay off and the school also closed in 2018 when it faced financial trouble. Bacone is a private university that serves primarily American Indians.

Hesston College Looking to Join NAIA

Hesston College (Hesston, Kansas) is seeking to join the NAIA beginning with the 2025-26 academic year. Hesston is a community college that participates in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) but will switch to a focus on awarding four-year degrees beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. Hesston’s press release did not indicate any particular conference it would seek to join but the most logical option is the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC).

Penn State Schuylkill Leaving NAIA?

Penn State Schuylkill (Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania) appears to have left or is in the process of leaving the NAIA, according to the NAIA’s interactive member directory. There has been no official statement from the school regarding any affiliation change. The school is no longer shown as a member when searching by its zip code (17972), nor is it listed for members from Pennsylvania. Schuylkill has been a member of the NAIA’s Continental Athletic Conference (CAC), which is comprised of independent NAIA institutions.

Schuylkill has dual membership with the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) and competed in the Penn State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC). The dual membership can make comparing schedules across years different in some cases such as in women’s soccer, which has been competed in the PSUAC. For men’s soccer, the 2024 schedule shows the PSUAC matches as conference games while the 2023 schedule showed only 1 match denoted as a conference game against fellow CAC member Washington Adventist. Noticeably absent from the 2023 schedule is a plethora of games against fellow PSUAC members as is scheduled for 2024.

Photo Courtesy of NCAA / NCAA Photos