Merrimack College officials recently culminated a plan launched earlier this decade to move the school’s sports team into the highest level of collegiate competition.

In four years, Merrimack’s sports teams will compete in NCAA Division I athletics as part of the Northeast Conference (NEC). This includes joining one of the most popular and competitive of all college sports, Division I men’s basketball.

The Warriors sports teams will join the conference after a NCAA-mandated reclassification  period.

NEC commissioner Noreen Morris said that it was “extremely evident” Merrimack College officials had a “clear vision to elevate the academic and athletic profile of Merrimack College.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Merrimack College to the Northeast Conference family,” Morris said.

Division I Process

Merrimack College will not officially join NCAA Division I until the 2023-2024 school year. The NCAA requires a four-year reclassification period for colleges moving up into Division I competition.

However, Warriors sports team will be incorporated into NEC athletic schedules starting in the 2019-2020 season. Merrimack teams will be able to compete for NEC championships in NCAA non-automatic qualifier sports: indoor and outdoor track and field, cross country, and swimming and diving.

Currently, 22 of the 24 sports teams at Merrimack compete in Division II in the Northeast-10 Conference (NE10). Moving them all into Division I completes a plan launched in 2011 called “The Agenda for Distinction.” Merrimack leaders wanted their sports teams to have the experience of competing at the highest, Division I level.

“We are pleased that our record of achievement and growth has resulted in this invitation to compete in the NEC and partner with its outstanding member institutions,” said Merrimack President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D.

The two teams already competing in Division I are the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams. They will remain in Hockey East.

Growing in Academics and Athletics

The movement into Division I sports is part of the overall growth at Merrimack, which is located outside of Boston in Andover and North Andover, Massachusetts.

In his comments on Merrimack joining the NEC, Morris mentioned the school’s recent investments in resources, personnel and capital improvements. Merrimack also had its most success athletic season ever in the 2017-2018 school year, as well as enrolling its largest freshman class ever in 2018.

Merrimack College also has received academic accolades for its degree programs. U.S. News and World Report ranks Merrimack among the top regional schools in the North and ranks it highly for “best value schools,” “most innovative schools” and for its engineering program.

Merrimack College has more than 4,600 students from around the country and the world, with students representing 34 states and 36 countries.

In sports, Warriors teams in the 2017-2018 school year achieved at a high level. The men’s lacrosse team won the NCAA Division II championship. Three teams won NE10 championships – baseball, men’s lacrosse and men’s soccer. The school set a record with seven teams qualifying for the NCAA tournament. In addition to the team’s mentioned above, those teams also included men’s basketball, men’s cross country, softball, and men’s tennis.

Northeast Conference

Merrimack College is joining 10 schools in the NEC which are located in six different states. Those teams – soon to be competitors for Warriors teams – include the following.

  • Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island
  • Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey
  • Long Island University – Brooklyn, in Brooklyn, New York
  • Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland
  • Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pennsylvania
  • Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut
  • St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York
  • Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania
  • Wagner College in Staten Island, New York

Merrimack fields 24 sports teams, 10 for men and 14 for women. They include baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, women’s golf, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, women’s rowing, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, and women’s volleyball.