Rivals Join The MAAC
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference announced on Oct. 23 that Merrimack College and Sacred Heart University will join the conference in 2024, raising the number of schools in the MAAC to 13. After the move, this will be the highest number of schools in the conference since its founding in 1980. Merrimack is located in the suburbs of Boston while Sacred Heart is in Fairfield, Connecticut, right across town from Fairfield University.
“Mount Athletics supports the MAAC’s expansion as it helps to stabilize the MAAC as a conference and extend our brand into the Boston market,” says Brad Davis, the Athletic Director for the Mount. Davis added, “With conference realignment, it is important that we are a member of a strong conference. We are excited to have schools we are familiar with from our time in the NEC to be joining us in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.” Merrimack and Sacred Heart will be leaving the Northeast Conference after this academic year. The Mount has competed with both schools in the past when it was in the NEC until 2022
With the addition of Sacred Heart and Merrimack, the MAAC has the opportunity to sponsor three additional sports, women’s Bowling, Field Hockey, and men’s Ice Hockey. A conference needs six schools to sponsor the same sport in order to have a spot for the conference in the NCAA postseason tournament. As of the 2024-2025 Academic Year, four schools will sponsor women’s Bowling (Mount St. Mary’s, Merrimack, Niagara, and Sacred Heart). Mount bowler Trishelle Leal Uribe, a Sophomore from Mexicali, Mexico described the Bowling team’s opinion of the MAAC sponsoring Bowling. “I think that the team as a whole is pretty hopeful that we can have a conference once again, especially since most of us have never experienced bowling in one,” says Uribe. “Adding two bowling schools to the MAAC opens up for the MAAC to add bowling to their sports and for us to bowl. As a team, I would say that we are hoping for the MAAC to sponsor bowling, given that it seems like out last chance at a conference.”
In 2024, Five schools in the MAAC will sponsor Field Hockey (Fairfield, Merrimack, Quinnipiac, Rider, and Sacred Heart). Five schools will also sponsor Men’s Ice Hockey (Canisius, Merrimack, Niagara, Quinnipiac, and Sacred Heart). For both sports, they need one more member to fulfill the NCAA requirements to have a team from the MAAC automatically qualified in the sport’s NCAA Tournament. When asked if one of these sports could be elevated into varsity status at the Mount, Mr. Davis replied, “The University and Athletic Department will continue to monitor and assess our NCAA DI collegiate programs to analyze if adding additional sports make sense for us. Part of my responsibilities as the new Athletic Director is to help the university’s enrollment through athletics. In our initial research, field hockey and ice hockey are not programs that make sense for the Mount from both a facilities and financial perspective.”
Whether the Mount decides to add a new sport or not in the future, the Mount and twelve other institutions are in a secure conference. During this time of major conference realignment within the NCAA, the MAAC has expanded to the DC/Baltimore and Boston Markets and made sure that the conference will survive long-term and has the opportunity to expand their footprint and sponsored sports.