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Bryant Bulldogs: Jumping to D-I

May 22, 2008

Bryant Bulldogs logoI’ve never heard of Bryant University in Rhode Island. I don’t even know where Smithfield, RI is. But the Bryant University Bulldogs are going to move up from Division II to Division I. Their basketball team will play in the Northeast Conference (NEC) and will play at U Conn (of course), Iowa, Rutgers, Maryland, against Providence College and Brown University, and in tournaments at Columbia and Ohio University. They’ll play only 9 of their 29 games at home.

They’ll be the new NJIT! If you are out there and have a list of other teams that are joining Division I let me know. I know the money is good up in D-I, but some teams really have to think about dropping back to the lower levels, or going Division III. I don’t see many more fans at a low level NEC D-I game than I did during a good game at the old WUniversity. And funding D-I sports has got to be a huge money-suck. Does playing in a low-level D-I conference bring a school that much notoriety?

  1. Kyle
    May 23, 2008 at 1:41 am

    Bryant is different from NJIT in that they actually have a conference to join rather than going into the Independents. It won 6 conference championships, and is going for its fourth president’s cup in five years (top performing school in their current DII conference). While there are many schools that really need to move down, there are also some that must move up and this is one. Its already grabbed three incredible basketball prospects including a top 5 player from Maine, a top 5 player from New Jersey and a power forward from Mass who was ranked in the top 30 in the nation by ESPN. Its facilities are already better than many in the NEC and actually holds 22 varsity sports. NJIT brought no value to NEC when it applied whereas Bryant gives the NEC the opportunity to create a lacrosse league with this sixth member. Mike Pressler (former exonerated Duke coach) is the new lacrosse coach and brought them to a #1 national ranking until they lost in the national tournament. Nobody wants to play at a low-level D1 conference, but it is the stepping stone for schools that are moving up from DII and are willing to float the initial investment…and Bryant sure has the money for it ($178 million endowment).

  2. picodulce
    May 23, 2008 at 10:39 am

    That is definitely food for thought; I don’t know where NJIT came from with the D-I idea. But some schools like North Dakota State and Florida Gulf Coast University (they have new and pretty sweet-looking facilities at FGCU) can step into D-I and be reasonably competitive.

    But what does that investment get a school like Bryant? More exposure? More revenue from D-I conference play?

  3. Kyle
    May 25, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    I guess only time will tell if the D1 investment is worth it. I know that they will be making enormous amounts of money from all of the basketball tournaments that they have committed to. On the other hand, they will be spending a lot on travel expenses for the other teams (since 80% of all games are away). Even if they break even on the athletic expenses, they will be getting a lot more more attention from college applicants for playing all of these high-profile games. Perhaps the alumni will also pay more attention to how much money they donate.

  4. May 26, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    The great golden ring for these teams is the NCAA basketball tournament. If you can get into a conference, become good enough to win the conference and get into March Madness. Even if you’re the team that gets thrashed by a #1 in the first round, that’s about a hundred times better than playing the Division II finals in some Holiday Inn ballroom in some non-descript corner of America. That is the main reason for the constant influx of teams from D-II to D-I.

  5. picodulce
    May 27, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    The NCAAs are definitely money in the bank, even for the 64 vs 65 game. But is the money spent to travel and recruit made up in that tournament appearance for a school that might not get there for a long while? In the low level, 1-bid conferences, there are teams that haven’t gone for 10 years or longer. I see the incentives – and the appeal of getting the school’s name out there – but I wonder if the AD’s are thinking it through.

    Sounds like Bryant’s in a good situation, though; I do think that some schools greatly benefit (FGCU and ND State, I think, will make the tournament at some point soon).

  6. June 22, 2008 at 2:28 am

    When will it end? Just 8 years ago there were maybe 305 DI schools, now there’s 330+ I believe. Sooner or later the NCAA will have to step up the standards against lower level schools applying for DI status.

    I agree with some above comments… it’s almost all about the NCAA tourney for these schools. When you think about it, these little schools are far away from being D1 football wise, so basketball is the only money making opportunity.

    Plus little schools get nice pay days by playing high level DI teams. So it’s another incentive for the small DI teams because usually high level DI (“BCS schools”) teams will not play a DII/III team unless it’s in an exhibition game.
    So basically what everyone has been saying is true, it’s mainly about achieving the status for basketball success.


  7. Fabby
    December 8, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I think the comments about NJIT is unfair….NJIT may not have won 6 championships but it also has it shares of glory having qualified for NCAA Division 1 tournament in at least one sports…prior to making the jump to Division 1….see http://www.njit.edu/v2/Publications/twanext/980520/TWANMay2098.html. Bryant certainly recruited pretty well but I not think it’s is that big a thing to brag about it especially suggesting that others should move down especially when they have not won 5….NJIT already has 4 winning D-1 teams….although the men’s basketball team is experiencing a setback… The decision to upgrade is to push for its sports to be on par with its academics…NJIT does not have a huge endowment fund but NJIT is pegged to Newark which includes http://www.d3baseball.com/images/2008/newarkstadium.jpg and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nxU_-GWwxM . As for making money from D1 basketball…it is basically out of question for most as the decision to upgrade to D1 is already a decision to spend more for the intangibles such as additional publicity.

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