Merrimack Moving up to Division I

Photo Credit Nicholas Czarnecki/Boston Herald 

And then there were 74! 

The defending DII men's lacrosse nationals champions will be moving up to Division I in 2019-20. Merrimack has accepted an invitation to join the Northeast Conference in Division I as they will become the 11th member of the conference, announced NEC commissioner Noreen Morris earlier today. 

Merrimack will still compete in the DII Northeast 10 (NE-10) conference this year and will move to the NEC for lacrosse in 2019-20. As far as other sports go the school won't be a full member of the NEC or DI until 2023-24 as there is a four year NCAA DI reclassification period the school has to go through. During this reclassification period Merrimack will be able to compete in the NEC for non-automatic qualifier sports such as lacrosse. 

With Merrimack going DI in 2019-20 they will become the 74th DI men's lacrosse program and 118th DI women's program. Merrimack is the first team, in men's lacrosse, to go from DII to DI since Bryant in 2012 when they also went from the NE-10 to the NEC. UMass Lowell is another school that left the NE-10 and moved to DI as they went to the America East. UMass Lowell didn't add lacrosse until a year after moving to DI and the America East Conference. 

This announcement comes after Merrimack won their first DII men's lacrosse national championship in 2018 as the beat St. Leo 23-6. This move has been talked about and suggested for many years as Merrimack has been a power in DII lacrosse and it is now finally happening. Merrimack is already DI in men's and women's hockey.

There have been many different views on this move but I personally think it makes perfect sense. First off Merrimack has been very competitive in lacrosse and they can now play at a higher level, which they most likely have played at for years. They will have an instant rival in conference with Bryant and could also form a non-conference rivalry with UMass Lowell. Merrimack knows what it's like being DI in hockey so there won't be as big of an adjustment with other sports and the athletic department as a whole. This move is great for the sport of lacrosse and great for Merrimack as a school and athletic department.