Le Moyne College, in Syracuse, N.Y., is making the jump from Division II to Division I and will participate in the Northeast Conference, beginning this fall.
Join us in welcoming Le Moyne College to the Northeast Conference‼️@LeMoyneDolphins x @LeMoyne x #NECsports pic.twitter.com/CKfu3qrKju— Northeast Conference (@NECsports) May 10, 2023
Due to NCAA reclassifaction rules, the Dolphins will first be eligible to compete in NEC postseason competition in the 2025-26 school year and in NCAA postseason tournaments in 2027-28.
“Reclassifying our intercollegiate athletics program to Division I and accepting membership in the Northeast Conference is a transformational moment in the history of Le Moyne College,” Le Moyne Athletic Director Bob Beretta said in a statement. “We are thrilled that our student-athletes will receive the opportunity to compete at the highest level of collegiate athletics and have a chance to showcase their talents on the greatest stage.”
Le Moyne is the third school from the Division II Northeast 10 conference to jump to the NEC in just five years, following Merrimack in 2019 and Stonehill last year.
According to Massey Ratings, the Dolphins would’ve been near the very bottom of Division I teams last year, as they went 15-15.
Stonehill and Merrimack have seen immediate success joining the NEC. The Warriors won the conference tournament this year but were not eligible for the NCAA Tournament due to the NCAA transition period.
Le Moyne’s head coach is Nate Champion, a legendary Dolphin, and one of just three players in program history with over 1,150 points, 350 rebounds and 350 assists. Champion became the head coach in 2019 and led the team to a 19-9 record and NCAA Division II Tournament bid in his first season.
College Basketball Hall of Famer John Beilein coached at Le Moyne for nine seasons before leaving for the Division I ranks, where he took four different programs to the NCAA Tournament and guided Michigan to two national title games. Beilein isn’t the only Division I head coach to coach at Le Moyne. Scott Hicks coached there before going to Albany and Loyola (MD). New Holy Cross head coach Dave Paulsen also used to coach at Le Moyne.
In an exhibition game in 2009, Le Moyne famously defeated their big brother in the city, Syracuse, at the then-Carrier Dome. That Syracuse team went on to lose just five games all season and finished with the highest KenPom ranking in program history (three).
The school has 21 varsity sports teams, with their most successful being the six-time Division II National Champion men’s lacrosse team. The women’s lacrosse team has also added a national championship banner, winning in 2018.
According to Verbal Commits, Le Moyne is set to return their three leading scorers from last season, Isaiah Salter, Xavier Wilson and Luke Sutherland. The Dolphins also landed Northern Colorado transfer Jamel Melvin in the transfer portal.
In the NEC, Le Moyne will be replacing the St. Francis Brooklyn, which recently announced that it was cutting all athletic programs.