Northern Kentucky University has found a home in Division I.
The Atlantic Sun Conference announced Thursday that NKU has accepted an invitation to become the league's 10th member.
Northern Kentucky will finish the 2011-12 school year as a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference in NCAA Division II, then begin the four-year reclassification process of joining Division I.
During the four-year period, NKU will not be eligible to win NCAA championships.
"This day has been a long time in the making," said NKU President James Votruba. "Today we begin a new era not just for our athletics program, but for our institution and our region. Division I athletics will help position the university regionally and nationally in a way that otherwise would not be possible."
NKU prepared for the move by upgrading its facilities to Division I standards. The school has new facilities for basketball (the 9,400-seat Bank of Kentucky Center), soccer, softball and tennis, as well as renovated facilities for volleyball and baseball.
NKU has won three national championships at the Division II level during the past 11 years. Women's basketball won titles in 2000 and 2008. Men's soccer won a championship last year.
Northern Kentucky, located in Highland Heights outside Cincinnati, will be included in Atlantic Sun regular-season schedules and eligible for individual awards and regular-season team titles immediately. The Norse cross country, golf and track and field programs will compete in next season's conference championships with the remaining sports gaining post-season eligibility in 2016-17.
The addition of NKU re-establishes the Atlantic Sun as a 10-member league. Last spring, Belmont announced it was leaving to join the Ohio Valley Conference.
Before being accepted by the Atlantic Sun, Northern Kentucky was rejected by the OVC in November.
Northern Kentucky is the second state school to announce this year it is leaving the GLVC. Kentucky Wesleyan said in October it is joining the newly formed Division II Great Midwest Athletic Conference along with five schools from Ohio after the 2012-13 school year.
That will make Bellarmine the only remaining Kentucky school in the GLVC.