The Horizon League announced that its Board of Directors has approved Belmont University’s application to join the league as an affiliate member in men’s soccer, in a press release on Monday.
Belmont will be eligible to compete as an affiliate member in 2014, and immediately vie for conference championships and NCAA Tournament bids. The Bruins have spent the last two seasons as an NCAA Division I independent.
“This is a momentous day for our athletic department, and specifically our men’s soccer program,” Belmont University Director of Athletics Mike Strickland said. “Our goal throughout this process has been to find a respected, nationally-relevant home for our soccer program, and we have found that in the Horizon League. On behalf of our student-athletes, coaches, and support staff, we appreciate this opportunity and are thrilled to begin play.”
“We are excited to be adding Belmont as an affiliate member,” Horizon League Commissioner Jonathan B. LeCrone said. “Thanks to the efforts of President Bob Fisher, Athletics Director Mike Strickland and his staff, we are happy to provide a conference home for Belmont men’s soccer student-athletes while enhancing the non-conference scheduling opportunities for several of our member institutions.”
In addition to the affiliate membership in men’s soccer, Belmont University and the Horizon League have reached agreement on a non-conference scheduling partnership that will see the Bruins compete against league members in men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, and women’s soccer.
“We are extremely excited to be a part of the Horizon League,” Belmont University men’s soccer head coach Bryan Green said. “We thank senior leadership for their hard work and persistence in making this a reality. Clearly, this is a tremendous opportunity and a significant step forward for our program. We get to compete in a league that is strong top to bottom and routinely has teams garner national rankings. Further, Belmont will travel to some of the best areas for soccer in the Midwest; opening new doors and demanding our best.”
Belmont University men’s soccer faced two Horizon league opponents in 2013, defeating Cleveland State, 1-0, and dropping a 2-0 decision to eventual league champion UIC.
The Bruins will open Horizon League play Saturday, Sept. 27 against Valparaiso at E.S. Rose Park. The Horizon League Men’s Soccer Championship will run Nov. 11-16, with the regular season champion hosting the semifinal round and championship.
Belmont is the first affiliate member in the Horizon League in over 30 years.