With baseball season concluding over the weekend, the inaugural year of Bellarmine University Athletics in NCAA Division I is officially in the books. The Knights’ 22 varsity sports programs made history and laid the foundation for future success.
Among the highlights, Louisville’s historic Freedom Hall became the new basketball home of the Knights,
and it was the site of plenty of drama as the men’s team exceeded all outside expectations by challenging for the best regular-season record in the ASUN Conference. The men’s soccer team excelled as well, clinching the regular-season
ASUN North Division championship and landing in the national rankings.
"This truly was a year for the record books. I believe our student-athletes, coaches and staff deserve all of the credit."
Nearly every Bellarmine team had at least one athlete earn an individual weekly or season honor, with an impressive number of Knights from a range of sports being selected all-conference, all-freshman or academic all-conference.
Student-athletes showed laudable results in the classroom as well, with a 3.43 cumulative GPA. Each team had a GPA over 3.0, and nearly 50 student-athletes achieved a perfect 4.0 this spring.
“Our first year in Division I was just that, a year of firsts for each of our programs,” Bellarmine Athletics Director Scott Wiegandt said. “We experienced the first wins, first road trips, first ranked teams, first win streaks,
first signature wins and our first conference tournaments in the ASUN. This truly was a year for the record books. I believe our student-athletes, coaches and staff deserve all of the credit. They will forever be the foundation for
our future in Division I and will always be recognized in our archives.”
Wiegandt said the transition brought increased visibility for the Bellarmine brand. The athletic communications team published more than 400 stories and helped produce 31 ESPN+ broadcasts and one ESPNU broadcast. Bellarmine improved its web stream
platform with BU Knights Sports Network and enjoyed enhanced radio broadcasts.
“On the competition courts and field, I saw our teams start to believe they belong and can compete on the grandest stage,” Wiegandt said. “We will continue to see that confidence grow in the coming years. We also experienced a surge
of fan interest and support. I believe Knights Nation is growing by leaps and bounds.”
A lot changed during Year 1 in D-I, but Wiegandt said one thing didn’t and won’t change – the Knights’ standard “to recruit and retain the brightest and best student athletes.”
"We will continue to operate with great integrity and care for our students. We will continue to do things the Bellarmine way."
“We will transition with students that meet the Bellarmine profile,” he said. “We will continue to operate with great integrity and care for our students. We will continue to do things the Bellarmine way.”
Wiegandt said he was proud of the student-athletes and coaches for making the transition successful, despite a pandemic, which challenged the entire sports world.
“Everyone had to adapt to constant changes and updates to protocols and competitions,” he said. “Everyone stayed the course and was extremely flexible, nimble and resilient.”
Men’s basketball coach Scott Davenport said this year has been one of unity, with all the teams embarking on a new journey together.
“We are just beginning to grow,” he said. “I emphasize the same philosophy I have believed in with all my heart since my first day as the head basketball coach at Bellarmine. It takes everybody. This incredible journey means so much
more when everybody is involved. None of us are as good as all of us.”
Click here to
read about Bellarmine’s path to D-I and here to learn about the transition kick off
FIRST D-I 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 (Fall sports were postponed by the pandemic).
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