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North Alabama to join ASUN in 2017-18
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
North Alabama to join ASUN in 2017-18

FLORENCE, Ala. – The ASUN Conference announced today the induction of the University of North Alabama into the league after a unanimous vote by the ASUN Presidents Council. The Lions will compete in the Gulf South Conference for the 2017-18 academic year before joining the ASUN for the following season.

"This is an exciting time for Lion athletics, the University as a whole, and the communities we serve," said University of North Alabama President Ken Kitts. "The move to Division I will help sustain enrollment, expand our fan base and bring much-needed visibility for this wonderful institution.  We're determined to spread the word about the amazing things we have going on at UNA, so if prospective students learn about us from a sports ticker, great!  I've said many times that it's "Our Time to Roar" at the University of North Alabama.  Our move into the ASUN and the ranks of Division 1 athletics is a powerful way to underscore that message."

The addition of UNA will bring the ASUN membership to nine institutions for the 2018-19 season. North Alabama will compete in the Big South Conference for Football starting in 2019 through the ASUN's partnership with the Big South. During the 2018 season, UNA will compete as a Division I FCS Independent. All other UNA sponsored sports will compete in the ASUN.

"I think this move will be transformational for our university," UNA Director of Athletics Mark Linder said. "We really appreciate Ted Gumbart (ASUN Conference Commissioner) and Kyle Kallander (Big South Conference Commissioner) working together to make this vision a reality for the University of North Alabama. We understand that both leagues are very strong academically and athletically and we want to be an active, engaged and sustained member. We look forward to building relationships with schools in the ASUN and the Big South."

The ASUN expands its footprint back into the state of Alabama, which formerly featured founding member Samford (1978-2003), Jacksonville State (1995-2003) and Troy University (1997-2005). With UNA joining the ASUN, the league resides in six states and features eight of the top-80 media markets in the nation.

"Today we cheer for University of North Alabama and for the ASUN Conference," added ASUN Commissioner Gumbart. "We have shared the recent steps in this journey with UNA and its leadership, and we are extremely pleased to be making this announcement official. On behalf of our Presidents' Council and eight current member institutions, we welcome the Lions to the ASUN family. Congratulations on a step well-earned for the entire UNA community, and we look forward to being teammates in the support of your student-athletes, coaches and administrators for continued growth and success as members of the ASUN."

UNA Notes
• In 2015, the University opened a brand new five-story 160,00-square-foot Science & Technology building. The $40 million facility provides a state-of-the-art home for the biology, chemistry and industrial hygiene, and physics and earth science departments.
• UNA is home to two 13-year-old African lion siblings, Leo and Una (yoo-nah). The lions reside in a state-of-the-art secure habitat on campus, next door to the president's home. View the Lion Cam.
• The Lions are the current reigning DII National Champions in Softball.
• The DII "Heisman" is named the Harlon Hill Trophy; in DII Baseball, the top player in the country receives the Josh Willingham Award. Both Hill and Willingham played their collegiate ball at UNA.
• UNA's state-of-the-art University Success Center is known as the Commons. The Commons offers a full-service coffee shop, restaurants, and an expanded campus bookstore and is home to Student Financial Services, the Math Learning Center, the First-Year Experience Program, and the Center for Writing Excellence.

What teams compete at UNA?
• Baseball
• Men's & Women's Basketball
• Men's & Women's Cross Country
• Football
• Men's Golf
• Women's Soccer
• Softball
• Men's & Women's Tennis
• Women's Indoor & Outdoor Track
• Volleyball
- UNA Football will join the Big South Conference through the ASUN/Big South collaborative football agreement and begin competition in the 2019 season.

ASUN Conference Enrollment Comparison
 Jacksonville - 3,425  USC Upstate - 5,500 FGCU - 14,673
Stetson - 4,137 North Alabama - 7,490 North Florida - 16,187
Lipscomb - 4,500 NJIT - 10,646  Kennesaw State - 32,500 

When will UNA join the ASUN?
- UNA will begin the four-year reclassification process to Division I in the 2018-19 season, and immediately compete in all ASUN sports. As an ASUN member, beginning with its first year (2018-19) UNA will be eligible to earn berths in and participate for ASUN Tournament Championships. UNA will become eligible for NCAA Tournament play in 2023-24.

Will UNA add any other sports that the ASUN sponsors?
- UNA has no current plans for additional intercollegiate sports programs.

UNA Athletic Success in NCAA Division II
- North Alabama has won seven NCAA Division II National titles coming in four different sports. The Lions recently won the 2016 NCAA D-II Softball Championship finishing with a 60-7 record. Currently, UNA's Football (10-1) is in the NCAA Division II Semifinals, while Volleyball (29-6) reached NCAA Postseason Regional Round.