St. Thomas Gets Summit League Invite, Requests Move From Div. III to Div. I

Division III University of St. Thomas has a potential new home: the Summit League, though that would require an NCAA waiver allowing them to jump all the way to Division I.

Based out of St. Paul, Minnesota, St. Thomas has been a powerhouse in the Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). In fact, St. Thomas was so dominant with in the MIAC (mainly in football) that the conference voted to remove them last spring. St. Thomas was a founding member of the MIAC and had been in the conference for 99 years, but had also grown to have roughly twice the enrollment of any other school in the conference.

The Tommies had won the past four MIAC titles in women’s swimming & diving, and won four straight for the men before losing to Gustavus last year.

The school announced last week that it had received an invitation to join the Summit League, a Division I conference made up of midwestern schools. The move, though, would require that St. Thomas jump all the way from Division III to Division I. Current NCAA rules only allow Division III programs to transition to Division II, so St. Thomas has applied for a waiver with the NCAA.

If the NCAA grants the waiver, St. Thomas would join the Summit League in the fall of 2021, giving them two more seasons in the MIAC and Division III.

Interestingly, the Summit League does not sponsor football or ice hockey, two major sports at St. Thomas. The school’s FAQ page says it would “actively pursue affiliate membership opportunities” for those two sports with other Division I conferences. The Summit League does sponsor swimming & diving and would be an immediate home for the Tommies in the pool.

The Summit League currently includes seven swimming & diving programs. Denver, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Western Illinois and Eastern Illinois sponsor both women’s and men’s teams. Omaha has only a women’s team, and Valparaiso is only part of the Summit League with their men’s program – their women compete in the Missouri Valley Conference.

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Wouldn’t be the worst thing for their swim teams. If you follow college swimming power points last season UST would’ve beaten 2 women’s teams and been close to 2 others. The men would’ve placed higher than three and within range of another one. No threat to Denver, but not bad.

One thing to think about is that a few of UST best swimmers recently have been D1 transfers looking for a different environment. Do they still attract that type if they go D1?


“One thing to think about is that a few of UST best swimmers recently have been D1 transfers looking for a different environment. Do they still attract that type if they go D1?”

Odd comment. OK, sure, they would lose out on getting D1 transfers who figure out they don’t want a D1 environment. But won’t they attract a lot of D1 caliber swimmers looking for a D1 environment,since, you know, they’d be a D1 program?


This is so surreal. I can’t imagine showing up at MIACs in February and not seeing St Thomas there. It’s gonna be weird for sure.

Also disappointing that this creates more opportunities to be annoyed by Um Ya Yas, so I look forward to someone else stepping in to fill the void. St Kate’s, I’m looking at you!


Good for Minnesota to be able to add another D1 swimming school. University of Minnesota is currently the only such program in the state.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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