The Bellarmine Knights are celebrating their next season in NCAA Division I play. Fans are invited to come to famous Freedom Hall to see how the latest roster stacks up against the NCAA’s best players and coaches. You could be part of over 18,000 spectators cheering on the hometown heroes as they push and strive for an NCAA postseason spot. Whether you’re a student, alumni, or a fan of the best college basketball competition in the country, then you won’t be disappointed. So make sure that you check out upcoming Bellarmine Knights games and order your tickets here from freedomlouisville.com.
The Bellarmine Knights program began in 1950 with the opening of Bellarmine College. The team’s first game was played on December 27, 1950 against St. Mary’s College. Soon after, the team joined the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 1951. The program remained in the conference until 1964.
The team’s first conference title came under Alex Groza when the team won the 1963 KIAC regular season and tournament titles. Groza was also named the KIAC coach of the year. The year also marked the first bid to the NCAA College Division, which is now known as Division II play.
The team grew and honed their talents leading to the past decade when the program became a premier NCAA Division II college basketball program. At that point, the team had won five Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) tournament championships. They also won the GLVC regular season championship six times. And the team also made 11-straight postseason play appearances. This included the 2011 season which saw the program’s first national championship win in the university’s history.
Recently, the team has accepted an offer to join the ASUN conference and join Division I NCAA play.
About Freedom Hall Stadium
Freedom Hall, home of the Bellarmine Knights Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams, is a multi-purpose arena. The facility is located in Louisville, Kentucky on the grounds of Kentucky Exposition Center and is best known as a basketball arena. It was formerly the home of the University of Louisville Cardinals.
Besides basketball, the arena has hosted several notable performances and events, including music concerts by Kiss, Chicago, AC/DC, Elvis Presley, and Led Zeppelin to name a few. It has also been used for WWE events as well as the VEX Robotics Competition World Championship Finals. And for the longest time, it was known as Kentuckiana’s main indoor sporting and concert venue until the downtown KFC Yum! Center opened in 2010. Despite this, it is still used regularly for concerts, horse shows, conventions, and basketball games.
Freedom Hall was originally completed in 1956 in the, then, newly opened Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. It received its name as the result of a statewide essay contest sponsored by the State Fair Board and the American Legion. The essay, written by Charlotte Owens, a senior at DuPont Manual High, won over 6,500 others.
Originally, the venue was designed for the nation’s premier equestrian competition, the Kentucky State Fair World’s Championship Horse Show. It also became famous as a regulation hockey rink and for hosting Muhammad Ali’s first professional fight. It was also one of the major stops for the Motortown (later MOTOWN) traveling music revue during the early and mid-1960s. The venue also hosted NCAA tournament games ten times, including six Final Fours between 1958 and 1969.
Today, the venue is a proud part of Kentucky’s major event scene, with capacity for 18,865 fans during basketball games and 19,200 fans for concerts. Since it opened, the facility has served several successful teams, including The Kentucky Colonels during their 1974-75 ABA Championship season. It also hosted the Louisville Cardinals men’s NCAA basketball team from 1956-2010.
Before joining the ASUN Conference for Division I play, The Bellarmine knights played in the Division II level in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Between the two periods, the team has amassed a long history of successful seasons and strong standout performances.
For instance, the team earned their first championship season on March 26, 2011 when they won the Division II Basketball Championships. During their tenure in Division II play, the team has earned 20 NCAA tournament appearances, with their first in 1963 and their last in 2019. The team earned conference tournament championships six times, including their first conference championship at the Division I level in 2022. The team has also made it to the NCAA Tournament Fional Four four times between 2011-2017. As well as seven appearances in the NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen from 2009-2019.