NEC Men's Lax is Back! Sport To Return In 2024-25 With Detroit Mercy & VMI Joining As Associate Members - Northeast Conference Skip To Main Content
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The Official Site of the Northeast Conference



NEC Men's Lax is Back! Sport To Return In 2024-25 With Detroit Mercy & VMI Joining As Associate Members


Bridgewater, NJ -- After a two-year hiatus, men's lacrosse is gearing up to make a grand return to the Northeast Conference (NEC) stage. 
Commissioner Noreen Morris today announced that the NEC will reinstate men's lacrosse as the league's 25th championship sport for the 2024-25 academic year.

But the excitement doesn't stop there.

Morris also announced that Detroit Mercy and VMI have accepted invitations from the NEC Council of Presidents to join the conference as men's lacrosse associate members.

Detroit Mercy and VMI will be immediately eligible to compete in the 2025 NEC Men's Lacrosse Championship, with the opportunity to secure the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

"I am absolutely thrilled to announce the return of men's lacrosse next season," said Morris. "As we reflected on our past successes and the pivotal role men's lacrosse has played in our conference's identity, it became evident that this sport is deeply ingrained in our NEC community. I also want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Detroit Mercy and VMI. Their commitment to join us has been instrumental in our ability to resurrect NEC men's lacrosse. Together, we're paving the way for an exciting new journey, and I eagerly anticipate crowning a men's lacrosse champion in 2025."

The NEC initially sponsored men's lacrosse from 2011 through 2022.

NEC men's lacrosse sponsorship will recommence with seven competing programs, as core members Le Moyne, LIU, Merrimack, Sacred Heart, and Wagner will be joined by affiliates Detroit Mercy and VMI.

Detroit Mercy launched its men's lacrosse program in 2009, initially competing in the MAAC from 2010-21 before transitioning to the ASUN for the 2022 season. The Titans claimed the MAAC title and secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament in 2013, and advanced to the MAAC championship game in 2011 and 2018. 

"I would like to thank the Northeast Conference for extending the invitation to help build its new lacrosse conference," said Detroit Mercy Director of Athletics Robert C. Vowels, Jr. "The NEC has a strong athletic tradition and is stationed in cities where the sport is vibrant at the prep level and the opportunity to build recruiting ties for the University on the East Coast is a great asset." 

Chris Kolon, who earned his MBA from Detroit Mercy in 2009, enters his ninth season as head coach and has been with the Titan program since its inception, serving as an assistant coach his first six years. His 2018 squad notably set a program record with nine victories.

"The NEC was always a blue-collar, competitive conference that had success on the national level at times," said Kolon. "The opportunity to battle schools from the East Coast will only benefit our alumni ties and overall program, and we look forward to competing for a NEC title and a chance to represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament."

VMI, which began sponsoring men's lacrosse in 1983, is currently an associate member in the MAAC. The Keydets competed in the MAAC from 2003-13, then returned for the 2023 season after spending eight seasons in the Southern Conference.

"VMI is excited to be joining the Northeast Conference as it restarts men’s lacrosse in the 2024-25 season,” VMI Deputy Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lenny Brown said. “We are appreciative of Commissioner Noreen Morris efforts in reestablishing the sport for the conference and the invitation to be a part of it. We believe this partnership puts VMI lacrosse in the best possible position and look forward to competing as a member of the NEC.”

Under the guidance of fourth-year head coach James Purpura, the VMI program has witnessed significant growth in recent years. The Keydets are one of six programs nationwide to increase their victory total in each of the last three seasons, culminating in a six-win campaign in 2023, the most for the program in 15 years.

"We are excited as a program to be joining the Northeast Conference," said Purpura. "I want to thank Commissioner Noreen Morris and the rest of the NEC leadership for extending an offer for our program to join such a historically competitive league. As a conference, the NEC has scored multiple NCAA Tournament wins over top seeds in the last decade and provides us with a challenging league schedule. We look forward to playing in some new geographies that will help build a presence for VMI in the Northeast.”
NEC men's lacrosse enjoyed a significant amount of national acclaim during its initial 11-year run, highlighted by four NCAA Tournament wins and nine USILA All-Americans. Bryant helped put NEC men's lax on the map with a landmark win in 2014, ousting No. 2 Syracuse from the NCAA Tournament with a 10-9 victory.

Men's lacrosse has held NCAA championship sport status since 1981. Currently, there are 77 NCAA Division I institutions that sponsor the sport.

With the addition of Detroit Mercy and VMI, the NEC will proudly showcase associate members across 13 sports for the 2024-25 season. These sports include baseball (Coppin State, Delaware State, UMES and Norfolk State), women’s bowling (Duquesne and Niagara), field hockey (Fairfield and Rider), football (Duquesne), men's golf (Binghamton, Howard, UMES and North Carolina Central), women's golf (Delaware State, Howard, UMES and North Carolina Central), men's lacrosse (Detroit Mercy and VMI), women's lacrosse (Delaware State and Howard), men's soccer (Howard), women's soccer (Delaware State and Howard), men's swimming and diving (Howard), women's swimming and diving (Howard), men's and women's tennis (Binghamton) and men’s volleyball (Daemen and D’Youville). 

About The Northeast Conference
Now in its 43rd season, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of nine institutions of higher learning located throughout five states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to a number of the largest markets in the United States including New York (#1), Boston (#9). Hartford/New Haven (#34) and Syracuse (#85). Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 24 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic access to 15 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Central Connecticut, FDU, Le Moyne, LIU, Merrimack, Sacred Heart, Saint Francis U, Stonehill and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league’s official website official website ( and digital network (, or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, all @NECsports.