The NEC is in trouble as they may lose their AQ with Stonehill and Lemoyne in transition (see article below). A merger with the MEAC makes the most sense. I would think at some point, Stonehill would eventually become a MAAC member once the dust settles.
From the FIELD OF 64:
2. MAAC expands … and NEC dwindles
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s teams, nestled into four states in the Northeast corridor, frequently receive more attention than your usual mid-major league. Comes with the territory when you’ve got schools in major metropolitan areas.
It’s also a league that usually punches above its weight when it comes to hoops, too. Whether it’s Iona (winners of 13 MAAC tourney titles), Siena (oh, those Fran McCaffery days), or Saint Peter’s (the Peacocks might still be America’s sweethearts), it’s usually got 2-3 programs that can counter-punch vs a power conference team.
And now, the MAAC is joining power conference schools and getting bigger.
Sacred Heart and Merrimack aren’t going to immediately disrupt the league hoops powers. Both will be among the Northeast Conference’s best teams this season, but they’ll be mid-tier MAAC teams to start.
More important is this guards the MAAC against other conference realignment moves, such as Iona or Siena jumping elsewhere. This would keep the MAAC at 12 teams, and offer stability.
As for the NEC, this move leaves it with just four teams that are eligible for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 NCAA Tournaments and just five active D-I teams in Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, Wagner, St. Francis (PA) and LIU. (Stonehill and Le Moyne are currently transitioning to D-I, but will likely file waivers to become eligible sooner; Bellarmine just filed a similar petition.)
That number is important because it now has a two-year grace period to find two active D-I teams before it loses its automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.
As Nelson Castillo notes, a merger with the MEAC might be possible, or even an invitation to D-I independent Chicago State.
Whatever the case, the NEC’s media day is today, which means conference officials better be prepared to answer a wide range of questions about its future.
https://fieldof68.beehiiv.com/p/marquet ... e-s-moment
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