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.
|University||New Jersey Institute of Technology|
Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA), Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA), Northeast Conference (NEC)
|Athletic director||Lenny Kaplan|
|Location||Newark, New Jersey|
|Basketball arena||Wellness and Events Center|
|Baseball stadium||Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium|
|Soccer stadium||J. Malcolm Simon Stadium|
|Other arenas||Prudential Center|
|Colors||Red and White|
Behind the Highlander name and logo
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.
|Men's sports||Women's sports|
|Soccer||Track and field†|
|Swimming and diving||Volleyball|
|Track and field†|
|† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor|
Move to Division I
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 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.
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:
- Men's Soccer: Competed as an independent in the 2013 season, then became a single-sport member of the Sun Belt Conference in the 2014 and 2015 seasons before joining the ASUN in 2016.
- Men's Swimming & Diving (Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association, known as Coastal Collegiate Sports Association since October 2015) (CCSA)
- Women's Tennis: America East Conference
- Men's Volleyball: Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA)
- Men's Cross Country, Indoor Track & Outdoor Track: Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A)
- Women's Cross Country, Indoor Track & Outdoor Track Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC)
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 through the 2019 season, after which the team joined the Northeast Conference.
Wellness & Events Center (WEC)
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) celebrated the official ribbon-cutting of the new Wellness and Events Center (WEC) on Friday, November 10, 2017. The design of the three-story, 220,000-square-foot building features a number of flexible spaces that can be quickly configured to support the numerous and varied missions of the university community. Designed and engineered by AECOM and built by Torcon, the exterior design reinforces the university's position as a leader in engineering and technology education, featuring a 52-foot-high glass wall on the north facade that offers an excellent view of the adjacent athletic field as well as NJIT's academic campus.
The 3,500-seat arena exemplifies the creation of transformable venues to meet the varied programmatic needs of each event. With all of the lower bowl seats in place, it is a dynamic Division I basketball and volleyball venue. Retracting half of those seats and adding a portable stage converts it to a convocation hall. With all of the seats retracted, the large, open floor can be used for recreation/ intramural sports, large student gatherings, job fairs, alumni functions and trade shows. The main concourse also functions as a practice running track.
Perhaps the most unique design feature of the NJIT Wellness and Events Center is the full-height glass wall along the north façade, which provides great views of the campus and the adjacent athletic field that will be constructed in the upcoming months. The main circulation corridor in the building runs along that glass wall as it connects the central campus quadrangle to a transit station for the local light rail system. Several casual seating areas have been located along this corridor so this light-filled atrium space can also serve as an interactive social hub for students, faculty and staff. The grandstand that runs along the base of the north facade is connected to the main corridor and doubles as a casual outdoor seating area that can be utilized for study on fair weather days.
The Wellness and Events Center is located at the corner of Lock and Warren Streets, which is a gateway point to the university campus. The design of the two façades fronting that intersection reinforces NJIT's position as a leader in engineering and technology education.
Another flexible program space on the first floor is the large multipurpose room. With the dividing curtain open, it can host fencing meets or other large events. With the curtain closed, it can be set up for practice on one side while the other side becomes a group exercise classroom for activities such as yoga, aerobics or Pilates. Other program elements on the first floor include an eight-lane, 25-yard pool with spectator seating, general student locker rooms, a training room with three hydrotherapy pools, a strength and conditioning room and fan support spaces for the grandstand.
There are two full-length practice courts on the second floor. These two rooms also have a central dividing curtain that, when open, creates another floor space that can be utilized for science fairs or other student functions. Adjacent to the main concourse is a team store that can be open to sell Highlanders gear throughout the school year. The other major space on the second level is the recreation center, featuring cardio fitness equipment, weight stations and an incredible view across campus.
A grand staircase connects the second and third floors. At the top of the staircase is the reception desk for the administrative suite, with offices and workstations for coaches and athletics administrative staff. Adjacent to these offices are several multipurpose conference rooms, a student academic support suite, a press box for the athletic field and an ESPN production room. Additionally, there is an 11,580-square-foot turf room, two racquetball courts and a hospitality suite.
The WEC facility has many amenities including:
- An 8-lane 25-yard swimming pool with diving area (home to the Highlander Men's Swimming & Diving team)
- A fitness center with cardio equipment and weights
- Lounges and study areas
- Multipurpose rooms (home to the Highlander Fencing programs)
- An indoor 10,000 square feet turf space
- Two practice courts for intramural and intercollegiate sports
- A running track that will encircle the concourse of the first-floor arena (Practice Facility for the Highlander Track & Field programs)
- The arena seats 3,500 people, but the bleachers are designed to retract, allowing the floor space in the arena to triple in size. (home to the Highlander Basketball & Volleyball programs)
- The expanded floor space will host campus events and professional conferences
- An inside path on the first floor will allow students to walk from the subway and other areas on Lock Street to the main campus quad
- A 30-foot-wide promenade between Tiernan Hall
- The outside steps and the open space on WEC's northside are designed for students to sit comfortably
- WEC is three stories high and its north side is all windows, through which natural light will flood into the building. The tall windows overlook the new athletic field.
Lubetkin Field at Mal Simon Stadium
NJIT Highlander Athletics will enter a new era this Fall 2019 after the completion of its highly anticipated outdoor multipurpose facility, Lubetkin Field at Mal Simon Stadium. The state-of-the-art facility will be the home for NJIT men's and women's soccer and men's lacrosse programs. When paired with the Wellness and Events Center, it gives the Highlanders one of the elite athletic venues in the Northeast.
Lubetkin Field at Mal Simon Stadium features FieldTurf's CORE surface, the world's first multi-layer dual-polymer fiber for sports turf that is reinventing the playing field and redefining the player experience. The CORE's proprietary design optimizes the system's performance, delivering a more realistic, textured, grass-like shape with optimal durability and resiliency.
Features of Lubetkin Field at Mal Simon Stadium include: a digital videoboard capable of displaying live video, animation, player headshots, graphics and statistics; a scoreboard, Musco LED Lighting; and field level seating for spectators. The facility also meets broadcast standards for potential NCAA Regional hosting opportunities.
An enclosed spacious press box with high-speed internet access and seating for media and radio broadcasters, as well as athletic training and locker rooms are located next to the field inside NJIT's Wellness and Events Center, which opened in November 2017.
Naimoli Family Athletic and Recreational Facility
The Naimoli Family Athletic and Recreational Facility, home of the NJIT men's and women's tennis programs, has undergone extensive upgrades, which includes Musco's Lighting Solution System and The PlaySight Smart Court Technology. In 2011, NJIT opened the 25,000-square foot indoor athletic facility that primarily serving as home to the men's and women's tennis teams, provides a home for NJIT's intramural programs, recreational sports, and practice facilities. The fully air-conditioned Naimoli Recreational Facility includes a floor surface suitable for a variety of indoor recreational sports and intramural competitions.
Branch Brook Park
Branch Brook Park, located approximately a 1/2 mile away from campus is the home for NJIT Cross Country teams.
The Estelle and Zoom Fleisher Athletic Center, was the former athletic facility for the NJIT Highlanders. The facility and adjoining field were demolished in 2016 to make way for the Wellness & Events Center and Lubetkin Field at Mal Simon Stadium. Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium was the former home of the NJIT Baseball team. The facility was recently demolished in 2019 to make way for Downtown redevelopment.
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. 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).
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.
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.
Club and intramural teams
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
Intramural sport teams
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). 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 during its first official NCAA Division 1 season.
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 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
- Senior captain Sabrina Baby led the nation in women's volleyball "Digs per set" in year 2009. She was also selected as an Academic All-American (third-team) by College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
- The women's volleyball team led the nation in "Digs per set" in year 2009.
- Christian Baumbach won the 101st annual IC4A Cross Country 'University Event' race in 2009.
- The NJIT (club level) Ice Hockey Team captured its first Great Northeast Collegiate Hockey Conference Championship title (Division II) in 2011 by defeating Muhlenberg College 3-2 in overtime.
- The NJIT Women's Tennis Team captured its first Great West Conference title beating North Dakota by a score of 4-2.
- The NJIT Men's Basketball Team defeated the 17th ranked Michigan Wolverines 72-70 on the road in their first match against a ranked opponent.
- Mamadou Guirassy won the NCAA Division 1 Golden Boots Award (soccer) in 2017.
- NJIT Branding Guidelines (PDF). January 1, 2015. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
- "Education NJIT cuts ribbon on WEC, an athletic facility and more (slideshow)". ROI. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
- 'NJIT: NJIT Officially Gains Active NCAA Division I Membership'
- "New Jersey Institute of Technology to Join the Atlantic Sun: #NJITtoASun" (Press release). Atlantic Sun Conference. June 12, 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
- "NEC Welcomes NJIT as Men's Lacrosse Associate Member" (Press release). Northeast Conference. October 19, 2018. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
- "Facilities". New Jersey Institute of Technology Athletics. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
- 'Great West Conference: About Great West Conference'
- 'Great West Conference: Great West Granted Automatic Bid Into CIT Field'
- "Conference Realignment". CollegeSportsInfo.com. 2016-03-11. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
- "NJIT earns a home in Atlantic Sun Conference". Asbury Park Press. June 11, 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
- 'NJIT Men's Basketball Team Media Guide'
- 'NJIT Highlanders: 2009-10 Men's Basketball Schedule'
- 'NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Records (2009 Edition)'
- 'NCAA Division 3 Men's Basketball Records (2009 Edition)'
- 'NJIT: Sabrina Baby and NJIT Claim NCAA Division I Statistical Championships'
- 'NJIT: Sabrina Baby Named to ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team'
- 'NJIT's Christian Baumbach Wins Prestigious IC4A Championship Race'
- NJIT Highlanders : WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS! - Co-Captain Colin McArdle scores late in OT for the Highlanders' first-ever championship
- Women's Tennis Captures Great West Conference Title
- "NJIT stuns No. 17 Michigan with critical 3-pointer"
- 'NJIT : Hall of Fame Induction Class of 1996'
- 'NSCAA: All-America Awards (1980)'