Colleges

Merrimack is moving up to Division 1, in Northeast Conference

25nonoteworthy -- Caitlin McBride Merrimack College softball (Jim Stankiewicz)
Jim Stankiewicz/file
Caitlin McBride of the Merrimack softball team

Merrimack College is taking all of its athletic programs to the Division 1 level after reaching agreement Monday to join the Northeast Conference for the 2019-20 season.

A 35-year member of the Northeast-10 Conference, which competes in Division 2, Merrimack currently fields men’s and women’s hockey at the Division 1 level, in Hockey East. The other 22 varsity programs will make the move after this year, as Merrimack becomes the NEC’s 11th member.

“From the outset, it was extremely evident that president [Christopher] Hopey and the entire campus community had a clear vision to elevate the academic and athletic profile of Merrimack College,” said NEC commissioner Noreen Morris.

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“With increased investment in resources, capital improvements and personnel, that vision has become a reality with Merrimack’s most successful competitive season in 2017-18.”

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In 2017-18, seven Merrimack programs qualified for NCAA Division 2 tournaments, won three NE-10 championships, and the men’s lacrosse program captured the national championship. Merrimack earned the NE-10 Presidents’ Cup, awarded to the top athletic program in the conference each year.

“Our student-athletes have enjoyed tremendous success academically and athletically,” said Merrimack athletic director Jeremy Gibson.

“We are thrilled that they will have the opportunity to pursue excellence through membership in the Northeast Conference, and that our entire community will experience the excitement of Division 1 athletics across all of our program.”

Merrimack will compete in the NE-10 for 2018-19. The Warriors will become a full member of the Northeast Conference in June 2019 that will include a four-year NCAA Division 1 reclassification period. But the school will begin NEC scheduling for 2019-20.

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The Northeast Conference also includes Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU Brooklyn, Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis University, and Wagner.