Northern Kentucky Norse

Northern Kentucky Norse
University Northern Kentucky University
Conference Horizon League
NCAA Division I full member (2016)
Athletic director Ken Bothof
Location Highland Heights, Kentucky
Varsity teams 17
Basketball arena BB&T Arena
Baseball stadium Bill Aker Baseball Complex
Soccer stadium NKU Soccer Stadium
Mascot Victor E. Viking
Nickname Norse
Colors Black, White, and Gold[1]

The Northern Kentucky Norse are the athletic teams of Northern Kentucky University, located in Highland Heights, Kentucky, United States. NKU is a NCAA Division I school competing in the Horizon League, which it joined on July 1, 2015 after leaving the Atlantic Sun Conference.[2] The university's teams for both men and women are nicknamed "Norse."


Norse has been a common term for Norsemen in the early medieval period, especially in connection with raids and monastic plundering by Norsemen in the British Isles (i.e. Norse Vikings or Norwegians)[3] (Gall Goidel, lit.: foreign Gaelic), was used concerning the people of Norse descent in Ireland and Scotland, who assimilated into the Gaelic culture. The Norse, or Northmen, were also known as Ascomanni, ashmen, by the Germans, Lochlanach (Norse) by the Irish and Dene (Danes) by the Anglo-Saxons.[4]

Division I transition

NKU began preparing to reclassify as a NCAA Division I institution in the fall of 2008, and officially started the process in the fall of 2012. During the four-year reclassification, NKU was not eligible for Division I championships.[5] The university ended its membership in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) at the conclusion of the 2011–12 academic year and began playing a full Atlantic Sun Conference schedule in fall 2012.[5] Following the four years, NKU became a full Division I member.[6] Prior to completing its transition to Division I, NKU changed its membership from the Atlantic Sun Conference to the Horizon League.[2]

Sports teams

A member of the Horizon League, NKU sponsors teams in eight men's and nine women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[7]

Men's basketball

The men's basketball team was the NCAA Division II national runner-up during the 1995–96 and 1996–97 seasons.

Women's basketball

In 2000, the NKU women's basketball team became NKU's first national championship team by winning the NCAA Women's Division II Basketball Championship in overtime 71–62 over North Dakota State, ending their season with a 32–2 record. The 2002–03 team was the NCAA Women's Division II national runner-up.[8]

The team won their second national championship in 2008 by a score of 63–58 over South Dakota, becoming one of only five schools to win more than one NCAA Women's Division II Basketball Championship, as well as the only two-time NCAA national champions in the state of Kentucky.[9][10] One of the top coaches in NCAA Division II women's basketball, Nancy Winstel, was head coach of the team from 1983 until her retirement at the end of the 2011–12 season.[8] Dawn Plitzuweit, an assistant at Michigan, was named the new NKU Women's Basketball coach on May 10, 2012.[11] On May 6, 2016, Camryn Whitaker was named as the new head coach.[12]

Men's soccer

In 2010, the NKU men's soccer team won the NCAA Division II national championship by defeating Rollins 3-2 in a driving snowstorm in Louisville.[13] The team was led by senior Steven Beattie, who was named Ron Lenz National Player of the Year in both 2008 and 2010.[14]

Women's soccer

The women's soccer team was the NCAA Division II runner-up in 2000 and advanced to the NCAA Division II Final Four in 1999 and 2001.


The Norse softball began in 1985 and is currently coached by Kathy Stewart, the fourth coach in program history.[15] NKU made their first ever NCAA Women's College World Series Tournament in 2002 before falling in the opening game.[15] The following season, in 2003, the Norse won the program's first NCAA Tournament win. The Norse hold the NCAA record for most consecutive wins in a season with 55, set in the 2005 season. The Norse concluded the season going 55-2.[15] In the program history the team holds an overall record of 621-445-1 (.583).[15]

Spirit squad

In 2006, the Norse cheerleading squad won the Universal Cheerleading Association's national title in the small unit coed category of competition, and also won the national title again in 2007 and 2009.

In 2011, The Norse Dance Team placed in the Universal Dance Association's national competition in the open hip hop category.


Over the forty years Northern Kentucky has sponsored intercollegiate athletics the university has won three NCAA DII national championships, 33 GLVC championships, and seven GLVC All-Sport Awards[16]

National championships

Basketball (W) 2000, 2008
Soccer (M) 2010

Great Lakes Valley Conference Championships

Baseball 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009
Basketball (M) 2003, 2009
Basketball (W) 1999, 2000, 2006, 2009
Golf (M) 2000, 2001, 2006, 2007
Golf (W) 2003, 2005, 2008
Soccer (M) 1987, 1992, 1993, 1995, 2010
Soccer (W) 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2009
Softball 2005, 2009
Tennis (M) 1986, 1987, 1990, 2003, 2004
Tennis (W) 1988, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004
Volleyball (W) 1985, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001

NKU claimed the GLVC All-Sports Trophy seven times in its final 11 seasons in the conference: 1999-2000, 2000–02, 2004–06, 2008–10.[16]

Club sports

Students have also organized club teams in ice hockey, taekwondo, fencing, boxing, lacrosse, rugby, kickball, skeet & trap, ultimate frisbee, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. These clubs are primarily organized through the Sport Club program.



  1. Northern Kentucky University Brand Standards (PDF). 2016-01-01. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  2. 1 2 "Northern Kentucky University to Join Horizon League in July". Horizon League. May 11, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  3. Baldour, John Alexander; Mackenzie, William Mackay (1910). The Book of Arran. Arran society of Glascow. p. 11.
  4. Adam of Bremen 2.29.
  5. 1 2 Peale, Cliff (December 8, 2011). "NKU goes D-I, could play Ohio State". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  6. "NKU accepts invitation to join Atlantic Sun Conference, will reclassify to NCAA Division I". Retrieved 8 December 2011.
  7. "NKU Norse". Northern Kentucky University. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  8. 1 2 "NKU Norse: Head Coach Nancy Winstel". Northern Kentucky University. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  9. Staff (April 2008). "Northern Kentucky downs South Dakota 63-58 For 2008 Division II Title" (PDF). Women's Division II Bulletin. p. 1. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  10. "Governor meets with Lady Norse". The Northerner. April 16, 2008. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  11. Posted on Thu, May 10, 2012 : 4:14 p.m. (2012-05-10). "Former Michigan assistant Dawn Plitzuweit will lead Northern Kentucky into Division I". Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  12. "NKU welcomes Camryn Whitaker as @NKUNorseWBB head coach". Northern Kentucky University. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
  13. Skinner, Richard (December 4, 2010). "Northern Kentucky University wins men's NCAA Division II soccer title". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
  14. "NKU's Beattie named Ron Lenz National Player of the Year for men's soccer". Northern Kentucky University. December 1, 2010. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
  15. 1 2 3 4 "Softball Records". Northern Kentucky University. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
  16. 1 2 "NKU Athletics celebrates 40-year anniversary". The Northerner. March 2, 2011. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
  17. Staff (Feb 14, 2005). "Bank of Kentucky buys NKU events center naming rights". Cincinnati Business Courier. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  18. "Bank of Kentucky Center". Cincinnati Metromix. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  19. "Northern Kentucky River Monsters Introduced". UIFL. November 26, 2010. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
  20. Jones, Nick (September 22, 2010). "Soccer stadium dedicated". The Northerner. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
  21. "NKU Soccer Stadium". Northern Kentucky University. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
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