As of July 1, 2024, the MAAC Conference will have two new members, the Sacred Heart Pioneers and the Merrimack Warriors, bringing the conference to 13 members for the 2024-25 academic year.
“This is a significant and exciting day for the MAAC as we welcome two outstanding institutions to our conference,” said MAAC Commissioner Travis Tellitocci in a statement Monday afternoon. “The addition of both schools extends our presence in major metropolitan areas, elevates our brand and enriches our conference. We are proud to welcome the Merrimack and Sacred Heart student-athletes, coaches, administrators, alumni and fans to the MAAC.”
Each program’s decision to join the MAAC will leave behind their current respective athletic conferences. Sacred Heart currently competes in the Northeast Conference (NEC), while most Merrimack teams are currently a part of the NEC after recently joining the Division I level. Merrimack’s men’s and women’s hockey teams compete in the Hockey East conference at the current moment, while their men’s lacrosse team currently resides in the America East conference.
Merrimack College made national headlines when the Warriors notoriously won the 2022-23 NEC men’s basketball title over Farleigh Dickinson University, riding an 11-game win streak to close out the season. However, the school did not earn the NEC berth for the NCAA championship or the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) due to the NCAA rules about transitioning from Division II to the Division I level, resulting in a four-year exclusion from the national tournament. The school transitioned into the NEC in 2019 and was in the last year of its transition period.
Sacred Heart, located in Fairfield, Connecticut, will enjoy an extremely close proximity to fellow MAAC conference institution Fairfield University, whose campus is only six miles away. The Pioneers sponsor 33 varsity sports and over 1,000 student-athletes currently attend the University. Since joining the NEC in 1999, their teams have earned 73 NEC team championships.
Merrimack College, located in North Andover, Massachusetts, becomes the conference’s primary representative of the New England region with its campus located 25 miles north of Boston. The Warriors currently house 16 women’s and 12 men’s athletics programs and will look to continue their acclimation to the Division I level while joining a new conference.
Edited by Dan Aulbach
Photo Credit: Marist Athletics