NJIT Highlanders

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NJIT Highlanders
Logo
UniversityNew Jersey Institute of Technology
ConferenceAtlantic Sun
Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA), Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA)
NCAADivision I
Athletic directorLenny Kaplan
LocationNewark, New Jersey
Varsity teams19
Basketball arenaWellness and Events Center
Baseball stadiumBears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium
Soccer stadiumJ. Malcolm Simon Stadium
Other arenasPrudential Center
MascotThe Highlander
NicknameHighlanders
ColorsRed and White[1]
         
Websitewww.njithighlanders.com

The NJIT Highlanders, formerly the New Jersey Tech Highlanders, are the varsity sport members of the Division I NCAA-affiliated sports teams of New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). There are ten men's teams, seven women's teams, and three club teams along with a variety of intramural teams. The school's primary conference is the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN). In November 2017 NJIT opened the Wellness and Events Center (WEC) which incorporates upgraded facilities for most Division 1 sports including a 3,500 seat arena for Basketball and Volleyball.[2]

[edit]

NJIT is located in an area of Newark presently known as University Heights, and formerly known as the Newark Highlands. In addition, NJIT's mailing address used to be High Street until the street was renamed in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These various references to 'High' are, in large measure, what led the school's students to choose The Highlander as its mascot. Upon moving up to NCAA Division I in 2006 -07, NJIT athletics updated its graphics. This included a new logo which depicts a stylized Scottish Highlander warrior in traditional garb.

Sports sponsored[edit]

Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Cross country Soccer
Lacrosse Tennis
Soccer Track and field
Swimming and diving Volleyball
Tennis
Track and field
Volleyball
Co-ed sports
Fencing
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor

A member of the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN), NJIT sponsors teams in ten men's, seven women's, and one coed NCAA sanctioned sports.

The NJIT Men's Baseball team plays at the Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium in downtown Newark.

Move to Division I[edit]

NJIT athletics moved to NCAA Division I, the top level of college athletics, in 2006.

Prior to the reclassification of the athletic program, all teams competed at the Division II level. In the process of reclassification, both men's and women's soccer programs moved up to Division I faster than the other programs by taking advantage of a policy that allows lower division schools to elevate one sport in each gender to Division I in two years. NJIT men's soccer became a full member of NCAA Division I with championship eligibility at the start of the 2005 season. NJIT women's soccer began a similar two-year process in 2005, with full Division I status and championship eligibility arriving with the 2007 season.

Advancing the entire program however took four years to complete. Requirements included an application, a detailed strategic plan, and in-depth annual review of the institution's progress in moving toward the goal of complying with NCAA Division I rules that included building a strong, broad-based program. Along the way, scholarship and operating budgets were enhanced, with expanded coaching staffs, increased scholarship dollars and upgraded facilities.

NJIT athletics officially gained across-the-board active membership in NCAA Division I, beginning September 1, 2009.[3]

NJIT was left behind in the early-2010s conference realignment cycle, not being invited to join any D-I conference as an all-sports member following the 2013 demise of the Great West Conference. The Highlanders then became the only Division I basketball independent, a status it maintained until being invited to join the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN) effective with the 2015–16 school year.[4]

Between the demise of the Great West and NJIT's July 2015 arrival in the ASUN, the Highlanders competed as an associate member in several Division I conferences for the following sports:

The track and cross country teams for both sexes, plus the women's tennis team, joined the ASUN along with the rest of the athletic program. The men's soccer team remained in the Sun Belt Conference for the 2015 season until joining the ASUN in 2016. NJIT chose to maintain its IC4A and ECAC affiliations.

Men's lacrosse, which was elevated from club to full varsity status for the 2015 season (2014–15 school year), competed as an independent in that season. While the ASUN announcement made no mention of NJIT's future lacrosse affiliation, it is likely that the lacrosse team will join the Southern Conference (SoCon) at some future time. The ASUN and SoCon have a lacrosse alliance under which the two leagues divide lacrosse sponsorship, with men's in the SoCon and women's in the ASUN.

Facilities[edit]

Besides the on-campus Estelle & Zoom Fleisher Athletic Center, the NJIT basketball teams also play at the Prudential Center in downtown Newark.
The NJIT Cross-Country Teams practice at the nearby Branch Brook Park and Van Cortlandt Park in NYC.

The Estelle and Zoom Fleisher Athletic Center, the home gymnasium for the NJIT Highlanders, underwent renovations in the summer of 2006 which included installation of a new floor and baskets, new lighting, new sound system and new scoreboards, along with entirely new seating for approximately 1,500 spectators after the first phase of renovation.

The home field for the Highlanders’ soccer program is Lubetkin Field and is a first-class venue for college soccer. Outfitted with SprinTurf artificial grass in the summer of 2004, Lubetkin Field also includes lighting for night contests, bleacher seating for more than 1,000 spectators, a press box and scoreboard. NJIT just recently hosted a Youth International Soccer Invitational on Lubetkin Field in which Mexico took the championship.

A six-lane 25-yard Olympic Swimming Pool within the athletics center is home to NJIT's division I varsity men's swimming team, while the two varsity tennis squads utilize the newly built Naimoli Family Athletic and Recreational Facility, which includes 4 indoor tennis courts.

While baseball and basketball are important aspects to NJIT's athletic program, their home matches are mainly played off campus at local sports hotspots. In a joint press conference in December 2005, former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre was a featured speaker as NJIT and the professional Newark Bears announced a 10-year partnership that secured the downtown stadium as the site of all Highlanders’ baseball home games.

NJIT basketball will also be a tenant of a major sports arena, the new downtown Prudential Center, the state-of-the-art home of the National Hockey League New Jersey Devils. The Highlanders hosted six games on four dates in 2007-08 at The Rock and NJIT plans to increase its presence in 2008-09. An expansion/extension to the existing athletic facilities has already been planned.[5]

Conference history[edit]

Most of the Highlanders’ programs competed Independently until 2009, when the Highlanders became a part of the newly expanded Great West Conference. In the summer of 2008 the Highlanders were one of six athletic programs to announce they had joined the expansion of the Great West Conference to form a Division I all-sports league that will begin full conference scheduling and championships in 2009-10.

The Great West Conference was formerly a football-only league but has expanded into an all-sports league with the addition of NJIT, University of Texas–Pan American, Utah Valley, Houston Baptist University, University of North Dakota and University of South Dakota. Chicago State University joined the conference in October 2008 making the total full-sports members to 7.[6] The Highlander programs that participated in the Great West were men's and women's basketball; baseball; women's volleyball; women's tennis; men's and women's cross country; men's and women's indoor track and field; and men's and women's outdoor track and field.

The newly expanded conference was not eligible for automatic Division I championship postseason qualification, but the Great West Conference men's basketball tournament champion was granted an automatic bid to CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT).[7]

During the 2012-13 basketball season, the NCAA underwent major changes in conference realignment. The Western Athletic Conference lost all but two members, Idaho and New Mexico State, which ultimately led to the league dropping football. The WAC responded by adding seven more schools, including three of the five Great West schools: Chicago State, University of Texas-Pan America, and Utah Valley. Houston Baptist accepted an invitation to the Southland Conference. With only NJIT left, the conference folded.

Although the Northeast Conference and Atlantic Sun Conference were discussed as likely destinations as of May 2013,[8] it was not offered a spot in either for the 2013-2014 season.

However, some teams do compete in single-sport conferences. The Men's volleyball team competes in Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA). In 2013-14 the NJIT men's swimming and diving team began competing in the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA). In 2014 NJIT women's tennis became an associate member of the America East Conference and in 2014-15 NJIT men's soccer will begin play in the Sun Belt Conference as an associate member as well.

After two years as an independent, it was reported on June 11, 2015 that NJIT would finally be joining a conference, replacing Northern Kentucky in the Atlantic Sun Conference.[9]

Club and intramural teams[edit]

NJIT, which offers a growing list of club sports, also has a robust intramural program, which makes use of the numerous athletic facilities.

Club sport teams[edit]

NJIT plays club-level ice hockey at the Prudential Center in the Colonial States College Hockey Conference.
  • Ice Hockey (affiliated conference : Colonial States College Hockey Conference (ACHA Division II club hockey))
  • Bowling (reinstated in 2008-2009)
  • Rugby (Established 2013; affiliated conference : Tri-State Conference for Collegiate Rugby))

Intramural sport teams[edit]

  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Cricket
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball

Recognitions[edit]

Men's Soccer In 1960, NJIT was NAIA co-champions with Elizabethtown College. The game went into four overtimes. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.

NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Recognitions for futility
NJIT‘s Men's basketball program set the record of the most winless team in D-I history (see 2007–08 NJIT Highlanders men's basketball team) in the 2007-2008 season with a losing streak of 51 games, breaking Sacramento State’s old D-I record. This acknowledgment has given NJIT's athletic program national recognition for futility. The unofficial NCAA record was set during its second NCAA Division I transitional season. It came despite a promising debut 5-24 Division 1 transitional season (2006-2007) whereby the rookie team won its first two matches (away and home).[10] With a new head coach (Jim Engles), an entire new team of coaching staffs and additional new recruits, the NJIT Men's basketball team ended a 51-game losing streak on January 21, 2009 with a 61-51 win over the Bryant University Bulldogs ending the 2008-2009 season with a 1-30 record. The Highlanders improved the following season (2009–2010) and ended with a 10-21 record[11] during its first official NCAA Division 1 season.

It currently holds 3 NCAA Division I Men's basketball reclassifying records:[12] Defeats in a winless Season (29 games), Consecutive Defeats in a Season (29 games) and Consecutive Defeats (51 games).

NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Recognitions for best performances
Despite performing way below Division I standard during its reclassifying seasons from Division II to Division I, the Highlanders till this day still hold several Division III Men's Basketball records more than a decade after elevation from Division III. These records[13] include:

  • All-time best 3-pt field-goal percentage in one season (67% by Reggie James in 1989 ).
  • All-time 2nd best 3-pt field-goal percentage in one season (63.1% by Chris Miles in 1987).
  • All-time 3rd best 3-pt field-goal percentage in one season (61.3% by Chris Miles in 1989).
  • All-time highest number of block-shots in one season (198 by Tory Black in 1997).
  • All-time highest number of block-shots per game in one season (7.62 by Tory Black in 1997).
  • All-time highest 3-pt field-goal percentage (min 100 made) by a team in one season (62% on 124 of 200 shootings in 1989).


As of the end of 2009-2010 season, the NJIT Men's Basketball team records stood as follows:

  • Division I basketball : 13/104 (12.5% winning percentage)
  • Division I, II & III composite records since 1924 : 810/1544 (52.46% winning percentage)

The NJIT Men's Basketball team had a good rebounding year in the 2010-2011 season breaking-even with a 15-15 (D1: 11/26) record to finish second (D1: 9-3) in the Great West Conference Regular Season. The records stood as follows at the end of the 2010-2011 season:

  • Division I basketball : 24/130 (18.46% winning percentage)
  • Division I, II & III composite records since 1924 : 825/1574 (52.41% winning percentage)

Noteworthy accomplishments since joining Division I in all sports in September 2009[edit]

Notable Highlanders[edit]

See also[edit]

List of NCAA Division I schools that have never sponsored football

References[edit]

  1. ^ NJIT Branding Guidelines (PDF). January 1, 2015. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  2. ^ "Education NJIT cuts ribbon on WEC, an athletic facility and more (slideshow)". ROI. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  3. ^ 'NJIT: NJIT Officially Gains Active NCAA Division I Membership'
  4. ^ "New Jersey Institute of Technology to Join the Atlantic Sun: #NJITtoASun" (Press release). Atlantic Sun Conference. June 12, 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  5. ^ "'NJIT Master Plan Executive Summary'" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-08-09. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
  6. ^ 'Great West Conference: About Great West Conference'
  7. ^ 'Great West Conference: Great West Granted Automatic Bid Into CIT Field'
  8. ^ "Conference Realignment". CollegeSportsInfo.com. 2016-03-11. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  9. ^ "NJIT earns a home in Atlantic Sun Conference". Asbury Park Press. June 11, 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  10. ^ 'NJIT Men's Basketball Team Media Guide'
  11. ^ 'NJIT Highlanders: 2009-10 Men's Basketball Schedule'
  12. ^ 'NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Records (2009 Edition)'
  13. ^ 'NCAA Division 3 Men's Basketball Records (2009 Edition)'
  14. ^ 'NJIT: Sabrina Baby and NJIT Claim NCAA Division I Statistical Championships'
  15. ^ 'NJIT: Sabrina Baby Named to ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team'
  16. ^ 'NJIT's Christian Baumbach Wins Prestigious IC4A Championship Race'
  17. ^ NJIT Highlanders : WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS! - Co-Captain Colin McArdle scores late in OT for the Highlanders' first-ever championship
  18. ^ Women's Tennis Captures Great West Conference Title
  19. ^ "NJIT stuns No. 17 Michigan with critical 3-pointer"
  20. ^ 'NJIT : Hall of Fame Induction Class of 1996'
  21. ^ 'NSCAA: All-America Awards (1980)'

External links[edit]