Coach Davenport and the men's basketball team

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Bellarmine makes strong DI debut

Spring 2021

Bellarmine made a strong debut in NCAA Division I, with the men’s basketball team greatly exceeding preseason expectations. 

Under longtime Coach Scott Davenport, the Knights--who also gained a new home court at Freedom Hall--ended the regular season 13-7 and were 10-3 in ASUN Conference play, finishing second in the regular season standings. They went into their first-ever ASUN Conference Tournament as the No. 2 seed, ultimately going out with a quarterfinal loss to Stetson.  

The Knights then headed to Daytona Beach, Florida, for the 2021 College Basketball Invitational, where a loss to Pepperdine on March 23 finally ended their season with a record of 14-8. 
 
“Those players are a phenomenal representative for everything that's right in college athletics, on and off the court,” Davenport said after the Pepperdine game. “The way that they represent their families, our university, our entire community, it's absolutely tremendous.” 
 

The team’s overall performance—particularly a 10-game midseason winning streak that put the Knights atop the conference for several weeks and drew plenty of national media attention—renewed discussions about whether the NCAA should allow teams reclassifying to Division I to immediately become eligible for the NCAA Tournament. Currently, NCAA rules require reclassifying teams to sit out for four seasons before they can fully partake in March Madness.  

At one point, ASUN Commissioner Ted Gumbart tweeted: "We are also working towards opening the @NCAA tournaments to all of Division I. Currently, individuals can transfer from DII to DI and play. If a whole school, such as @bellarmineU @north_alabama or a @Merrimack transfers to DI, those teams have to sit out FOUR YEARS. Not right." 

Standout soccer 

The soccer team also landed on the national radar. For the first time in the Division I era, Bellarmine received votes in the United Soccer Coaches' Top 25 rankings. The Knights got 13 votes in the mid-March poll, ostensibly placing them at No. 33 in the country. 

Bellarmine had already jumped from No. 6 to No. 2 in the United Soccer Coaches' rankings for the Atlantic Region.  


FIRST DI WINS 

Bellarmine’s first-ever Division I win: Men’s basketball team, which defeated Howard University in Washington D.C. 84-63 on Dec. 6, 2020. (The pandemic postponed fall sports.) The team's first ASUN victory was against Florida Gulf Coast (74-60) on Jan. 15, 2021.  

Men’s swimming: Junior Matthew Sims took gold in the 200 butterfly on Feb. 21, 2021, at the CCSA Conference Swimming and Diving Championship in Lynchburg, Va. 

Women’s basketball: 71-64 over Stetson in DeLand, Fla., on Jan. 24, 2021 

Wrestling: 32-18 over Presbyterian on Jan. 24, 2021, in the Southern Conference 

Baseball: 11-1 over Eastern Illinois on March 2, 2021, in their home debut 

Men’s soccer: 1-0 over Lipscomb on Feb. 27, 2021; also first ASUN victory 

Men’s tennis: 5-2 against Eastern Illinois on Feb. 20, 2021 

Women’s soccer: 1-0 over Liberty on Feb. 28, 2021; also first ASUN win 

Softball:  4-1 over Western Michigan on Feb. 20, 2021, in first day of DI competition 

Volleyball: 3-0 sweep of Mercer on Jan. 24, 2021, in first DI outing 

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