Friday June 12th, 2015

College basketball’s only independent school, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, will join the Atlantic Sun Conference next season, the conference announced.

The conference made the formal announcement during a news conference on Friday and said NJIT and its 14 Division I sports will join the conference on July 1.

NJIT, located in Newark, N.J., had been Division I’s only independent athletic program since the 2013-14 season, after the Great West Conference disbanded.

"As we continue building the A-Sun, adding NJIT brings an overall institutional presence that will contribute academically, athletically, and with the overall student-athlete experience. We look forward to celebrating this announcement together and competing with them for championships this coming season," Atlantic Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart said.

The Highlanders stunned the basketball world last season, beating 17th-ranked Michigan 72-70 in Ann Arbor on Dec. 6.

NJIT, coached by Jim Engles, went 21-12 last season and lost in the semifinals of the tournament to Northern Arizona in the school's first-ever postseason appearance. Just seven years ago, the team went 0-29 in the mist of a 51-game losing streak.

The Atlantic Sun currently has eight members: North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, South Carolina Upstate, Lipscomb, Northern Kentucky, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State and Stetson.

The Atlantic Sun has six other associate members, all of which compete in women’s lacrosse.

Northern Kentucky will be leaving the conference on July 1 to join the Horizon League, becoming that conference’s 10th member.

- Scooby Axson

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