Conference realignment strikes again. The MAAC is adding Sacred Heart and Merrimack from the NEC for the 2024-25 academic year.
Sacred Heart will compete against crosstown rival Fairfield and will give the conference a third school in Connecticut along with Quinnipiac. Merrimack provides the conference a presence in the Boston area.
“The addition of both schools extends our presence in major metropolitan areas, elevates our brand and enriches our conference,” MAAC Commissioner Travis Tellitocci said in a statement. “We are proud to welcome the Merrimack and Sacred Heart student-athletes, coaches, administrators, alumni and fans to the MAAC.”
— #MAACSports (@MAACSports) October 23, 2023
Today becomes a historic day as we welcome Merrimack and Sacred Heart as full members, propelling #MAACSports to a league all-time high 1️⃣3️⃣ members in 2024-25!
: https://t.co/4UWvTL8uLx#MAACSports x @MC_Athletics x @SHUBigRed pic.twitter.com/x2X2xYM9rw
SHU sponsors 33 varsity sports. The Pioneers claimed a league-best nine NEC Commissioner’s Cups for overall league supremacy since joining the league in 1999. The men’s basketball team has won 20 games just once in its Division I history (2019-20). The women’s basketball team claimed the 2023 NEC title this past March, the program’s first crown since 2012. The Pios knocked off Southern in the First Four before falling to top-seed Stanford.
“Joining the MAAC is an excellent opportunity for the Sacred Heart University athletics program,” Sacred Heart Executive Director of Athletics Judy Ann Riccio said. “We are honored to join a group of colleges and universities who are as passionate about the student-athlete experience as we are. We look forward to our teams competing for championships for years to come.”
Merrimack has been a Division I member since 2019-20, and this upcoming year will be the school’s first full year of eligibility following the four-year reclassification process. The school features 28 varsity teams. The men’s basketball team won 20 games in its first season at DI. The Warriors went 18-16 last year. The women’s basketball team also won 20 games in 2019-20. The squad finished third in the NEC last year.
“We are privileged to be joining a group of outstanding universities who share Merrimack’s commitment to aligning student-athlete welfare with academic and athletic success,” Merrimack Director of Athletics Jeremy Gibson said. “Our ascension in Division I athletics has been rapid, and we are eager to build upon our momentum as a member of the MAAC.”
This marks five straight times when the MAAC picks up a new member, it comes from the NEC. The conference added Monmouth and Quinnipiac ahead of the 2013-14 year and Mount St. Mary’s for 2022-23.