Atlantic Sun Conference
The ASUN Conference is a NCAA conference whose members play in NCAA Division I. The conference is headquartered in Atlanta and mostly features universities and colleges from the southeastern United States. The ASUN did not play football until 2022, when it began play in the second level of Division I football, the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
The ASUN began in 1978 as the Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC). It became the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2001 and rebranded itself as the ASUN Conference in 2016.
As of the 2022–23 school year, the ASUN has 14 full members, or schools that play almost all of their sports in the conference.
The ASUN has added five members in the 2020s. First, three schools, one a returning member, joined in 2021. The first-time members were the University of Central Arkansas and Eastern Kentucky University, which respectively arrived from the Southland Conference and Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). Jacksonville State University, which had been an ASUN member from 1995 to 2003, returned after spending 18 years in the OVC. At that time, the ASUN technically began sponsoring football, but did not start conference play. It partnered with the Western Athletic Conference, which was launching an FCS football league in the fall 2021 season. Under the agreement, the three newest members, all of which play FCS football, became de facto WAC football members for that season only.
The next membership change came in July 2022 with the arrival of football-sponsoring Austin Peay State University from the OVC and non-football Queens University of Charlotte from the Division II South Atlantic Conference. When Peay was announced as an incoming ASUN member, it gave the conference six members that play FCS football and award scholarships for that sport, which is the number of teams needed for a conference to receive an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. However, the ASUN would lose one of those six members when Jacksonville State announced a 2023 move to Conference USA (C-USA). JSU began a transition to FBS in 2022, making it ineligible for the FCS playoffs. The WAC lost two of its planned six playoff-eligible members in 2022, with Sam Houston starting an FBS transition ahead of its 2023 move to C-USA and Incarnate Word backing out of a planned move to the WAC and remaining in the Southland Conference. This led the ASUN and WAC to renew their football partnership for 2022. Both conferences will play separate league schedules, with officials from each conference choosing their one automatic playoff team. The new ASUN football league, launching in 2022, will feature Austin Peay, the three 2021 arrivals, Kennesaw State, and North Alabama. Three other ASUN schools sponsor football but will not play that sport in the ASUN. Stetson plays in the Pioneer Football League, whose members do not award football scholarships; Liberty plays as an independent in the top level of D-I football, the Football Bowl Subdivision; and Bellarmine began play in sprint football, a weight-restricted form of the sport not run by the NCAA, in 2022.
Associate members change
The ASUN also has 12 "associate members" that play one or two sports in the conference while being full members of another conference. Seven of these schools, plus full members Bellarmine and Jacksonville, make up the ASUN men's lacrosse league, restarted in the 2021–22 school year (2022 season) after having been shut down when the ASUN began a lacrosse partnership with the Southern Conference (SoCon). Four more schools joined in July 2021. Two returned women's lacrosse to the ASUN after the SoCon shut down its women's lacrosse league, and three joined in beach volleyball.
After the Atlantic 10 Conference started a men's lacrosse league for the 2023 season, taking away two of the SoCon's six men's lacrosse members, the SoCon shut down its men's lacrosse league. Jacksonville, which had played in SoCon men's lacrosse in the 2022 season by agreement between the ASUN and SoCon, returned that sport to the ASUN. It was joined in ASUN men's lacrosse by Mercer, a full SoCon member that was already an ASUN beach volleyball member, and Lindenwood, which started a transition to D-I in 2022 as a new member of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC), which does not sponsor the sport. Lindenwood also joined the ASUN in women's lacrosse, also not sponsored by the OVC, at that time.
The "Joined" column shows the year in which a school joined the ASUN. Since all ASUN sports that have associate members (beach volleyball and men's and women's lacrosse) are spring sports, this means the year of joining is the calendar year before the first season of ASUN play.
- Coastal Carolina had been an ASUN member in women's lacrosse from 2016 to 2020 (2017–2020 seasons).
- Delaware State had been an ASUN member in women's lacrosse in the 2017 season (2016–17 school year).
- Stephen F. Austin uses "Lumberjacks" as its men's athletic nickname and "Ladyjacks" for women.
- "ASUN Conference". asunsports.org. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
- "ASUN Conference Announces Three New Institutions; Adds Football as 20th Sport" (Press release). ASUN Conference. January 29, 2021. Archived from the original on January 29, 2021. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
- "Conference Student-Athletes Unveil New ASUN Brand Identity" (Press release). ASUN Conference. April 28, 2016.[permanent dead link]
- "ASUN, WAC Conferences Announce Football Partnership for 2021" (Press release). ASUN Conference. February 23, 2021. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
- "ASUN Conference Welcomes Austin Peay State University as its Newest Member" (Press release). ASUN Conference. September 17, 2021. Archived from the original on November 15, 2022. Retrieved September 17, 2021.
- "ASUN Conference Welcomes Queens University of Charlotte as Its Newest Member" (Press release). ASUN Conference. May 10, 2022. Archived from the original on May 10, 2022. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
- "University of the Incarnate Word Staying in the Southland Conference" (Press release). Southland Conference. June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 24, 2022.
- "ASUN and WAC Renew Football Alliance" (Press release). ASUN Conference. May 18, 2022. Retrieved May 19, 2022.
- "ASUN Conference Announces Formation of Men's Lacrosse League" (Press release). ASUN Conference. February 5, 2021. Archived from the original on February 5, 2021. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
- "SoCon, ASUN Partner to Enhance Lacrosse" (Press release). Southern Conference. January 9, 2014. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
- "Atlantic 10 Conference Adds Men's Lacrosse as 22nd Championship Sport" (Press release). Atlantic 10 Conference !date=May 23, 2022. Retrieved May 23, 2022.
- "Jacksonville, Lindenwood & Mercer Joining #ASUNMLAX for 2023 Season" (Press release). ASUN Conference. March 30, 2022. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
- "#ASUNWLAX Announces Addition of Lindenwood for 2023 Season" (Press release). ASUN Conference. May 2, 2022. Retrieved May 7, 2022.