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VIP Mailbag: Loads of questions regarding the NEC and Division I

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The Mailbag feature is exclusively for TMR VIP supporters. During the hockey season, this feature will run at least once per week (maybe more, depending on questions) and in the offseason, the mailbag will be posted whenever there are enough questions to fill up a post! To submit a question for the mailbag, email mackreportVIP@gmail.com

Q. Since Merrimack is a D1 school do you think we will see a new basketball court built with more seating and possibly a multipurpose arena for hockey and basketball?

Not without a sizable donation from someone, and my sizable I mean in the neighborhood of $40-$60 million. That’s what it cost Colgate to build their new building, which would be an appropriate size for Merrimack. Even Bentley spent about $40 million. Without an alum, or a group of alums, pledging that type of money, I don’t think a new facility is in the cards.

However, there will be work done to the gym. It’s necessary. One thing I think that could happen is they could potentially flip the court and have it run the other way inside the existing gym. That could give them more room for seating. Also, on the far wall (opposite where you enter from the lobby) they could do some things to add luxury suites and concessions.

Q. Heard that Merrimack is talking about adding a dome to the football stadium?

There won’t be a dome added to the new stadium, but there is talk of building a practice bubble or a field house behind the stadium, where the old baseball stadium sat. I’m not sure how much room they have there, but I would guess about a 50-yard field house/bubble so that the outdoor teams could practice year round.

Honestly, it’s unfortunate that there wasn’t enough room to build a baseball diamond back there, but the bubble might be more beneficial for the program. Now they’ll have a place to train, indoors, all winter without having to use the gym.

Q. What are the rules regarding playoffs? Can Merrimack really not play in the playoffs for four years?

That’s the rule. Merrimack will be eligible for regular-season championships, but the Warriors will not be eligible for postseason tournaments for four years. That’s done, in part, to discourage teams from moving. They don’t want teams moving up and down every year throughout divisions. Personally, I think it’s a little silly, but every team that has elevated from Division II to Division I has had to go through it. In fact, UMass Lowell’s men’s soccer team won the America East Title a few years ago, and then weren’t allowed to go to the playoffs.

Q. Which teams do you think will be most competitive in the NEC?

That’s a very open-ended question. Right away I think men’s lacrosse will compete. Honestly, Merrimack might be the second best men’s lacrosse team in the NEC right now. No kidding.

There’s also reason to believe that men’s basketball could be competitive relatively quickly. Joe Gallo knows the NEC, and when you look at the turnaround that program has experienced the last two years, I think Gallo is the right guy to elevate that program to Division I.

I also think we’ll see a lot more investment in basketball. Most multi-sport conferences at the Division I level care about football and basketball. I would say those programs just took on a lot more added importance at Merrimack with this move.

Q. Were there any other conferences Merrimack was talking to before deciding on the NEC?

The NEC was always the logical target, but they weren’t the only one. From what I was told, Merrimack also had some conversations with the MAAC and America East.

Q. Did the NEC make this move because someone else is leaving the conference? With hockey you always talk about leagues being at even numbers and now the NEC is at 11.

I’m not sure they made the move because someone is leaving, but Merrimack provides insurance in case someone does. There have been rumblings that Robert Morris is looking to move to another conference, and that keeps lingering. From that standpoint, it was smart on the NEC’s part to be proactive.

Q. Could Jeff Solow play for 3 more years since he didn’t dress for a game at all last season?

Technically yes, as long as he applied for a redshirt year. I’m not sure whether or not that happened, but he could redshirt given the circumstances.

About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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