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.
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.