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  • Chris Jastrzembski

Le Moyne to transition to Division I, joining Northeast Conference

There will be another new face to the Division I ranks for the 2024 season.

Le Moyne College announced on Wednesday that it has accepted to join the Northeast Conference beginning in the fall of 2023. Located in Syracuse, New York, the Dolphins will be the 12th athletic department since 2019 to transition to Division I.

Le Moyne has a storied history as a Division II power in lacrosse, winning six men's national championships since 2004 and is currently ranked number one in Division II. Le Moyne has also won a women's lacrosse national championship in 2018. Those are the only two programs that have won NCAA national championships.

A campus-wide celebration is scheduled for Thursday at 1 PM.

“The move to Division I and the Northeast Conference is a milestone event for Le Moyne College,” said President Linda LeMura. “Since the College’s founding in 1946, athletics has been a vital component of our Jesuit ideal of cura personalis - care for the mind, body and soul. By making this move, we are building on a strong foundation of excellence that has been a hallmark of our student-athletes and our programs.”

“On behalf of the Northeast Conference Council of Presidents, we are thrilled to welcome Le Moyne College to the NEC family,” said NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris. “During our membership evaluation process, it became abundantly clear there was tremendous mission alignment between the NEC and Le Moyne from an academic, athletic and community perspective. I would like to thank President Linda LeMura, Board Chair Pete DiLaura and Athletic Director Bob Beretta for their leadership through this process. Due to their significant planning and preparation, it’s evident the Dolphins are poised to make the jump to Division I. We look forward to kicking off our relationship this fall.”

According to the press release from Le Moyne, it was a culmination of a 15-month long process for the college, including the hiring of an outside consultant to conduct a feasibility study. Last June, an ad hoc committee comprised of members of a multitude of groups at Le Moyne was formed. The committee met regularly, conferring with many members of Le Moyne's community, including alumni and student-athletes, along with presidents who have moved from Division II to Division I.

Back in 2022, there were rumors of Le Moyne moving to Division I and were connected to the NEC and the MAAC.

Le Moyne becomes the third full-time addition to the NEC in the last five years, joining Merrimack and Stonehill. Last year, Stonehill joined Lindenwood and Queens, both of whom went to the ASUN, as lacrosse schools to begin their transition to Division I.

As with all schools transitioning up from Division II to Division I, Le Moyne will be ineligible for all NCAA Tournament competition for the next four seasons. Le Moyne will be able to compete in NEC Tournaments beginning with the 2025-26 academic year.

The men's lacrosse program would not have a conference to join for 2024 with the NEC not sponsoring men's lacrosse at the present time. Current men's lacrosse members LIU, Merrimack, Sacred Heart, and Wagner and associate members in other conferences for this year and next. LIU, Sacred Heart, and Wagner are part of the MAAC, while Merrimack is part of the America East.

But after next season, sources have told in recent weeks that the NEC plans to resume sponsoring men's lacrosse in time for the 2024-25 academic year. The plan as told was to include the four current members of the conference along with incoming member Le Moyne.

The new-look conference would also include current ASUN members Cleveland State, Detroit Mercy, and Robert Morris, all of whom are also part of the Horizon League as full members. Robert Morris was originally a founding member of the conference before leaving prior to the start of the 2020-21 academic year. It would make travel for all three schools much easier than what they currently have in the ASUN.

There's also rumors of Stonehill beginning a men's lacrosse program.

On Le Moyne's Division I FAQ's page, it also directly mentions the return of the NEC sponsoring men's lacrosse.

Le Moyne is the first Division II school to announce their transition to Division I this academic year. Back in the fall, the University of Indianapolis voted to stay at the DII level "at this time."

Le Moyne will be the 76th men's program when play begins next year as Hartford officially moves down to Division III. They will also be the 127th program on the women's side, joining Rider who will make their program debut next year.

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