It was announced on March 29 that after a 14 year long membership in the Northeast Conference(NEC), the Bryant University athletic program would be leaving the conference to head to the American East Conference(AEC), according to the Northeast Conference website.
Just a week later, the NEC welcomed in its second new program since 2018 as Stonehill College officially made the transition from a Division II program to a Division I program. The Skyhawks had been in the Northeast-10 conference for over 40 years with two women’s lacrosse national championships and four men’s basketball conference titles.
“We have enjoyed competing against Bryant and wish them well in their new endeavor,” said Athletic Director Judy Ann Riccio. “We look forward to welcoming Stonehill to the NEC.”
Sophomore Quest Harris, a member of the Sacred Heart men’s basketball team, believes that the AEC is exactly where Bryant University will fit in. Harris also voiced that the Bulldogs senior guard Peter Kiss has potential to be the face of the conference.
“I think Bryant to the American East is good for them,” said Harris. “Their team is built similar to some American East teams and they have a great player in Peter kiss that’s skilled enough to be the best player in that conference as well.”
Considering that the AEC does not have a football conference, the Bryant football program will become a part of the Big South Conference, according to Bryant Athletics. Notable teams in the Big South include Kennesaw State, Monmouth University, and Gardner-Webb University.
For Stonehill, 23 of their sports will be included in the NEC and by the 2026-2027 season all of these sports will be championship eligible, according to the Northeast Conference website.
“Stonehill’s move to Division I and membership in the Northeast Conference is a transformational moment in our history,” said Stonehill Athletic Director Dean O’Keefe in a press release. “We are thrilled our student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level of collegiate athletics.”