St. Thomas making jump from Division III to Division I
St. Thomas is a private school that was competing in Division III athletics in the state of Minnesota.
It wasn’t winning national championships in every sport consistently, but it was crushing its competition (especially within its conference). Since St. Thomas essentially got ejected from its conference because of dominating, it needed to find a new home.
While sticking in Division III would have potentially been comfortable, St. Thomas wanted to move up. And not just move up one level of competition, but, multiple levels.
On Wednesday, it was confirmed that St. Thomas was making the jump all the way up to Division I. Nineteen of its 22 athletics programs were set to compete in the Summit League. Football, which wasn’t one of those 19, found a home in the Pioneer League.
Its women’s hockey team will compete in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association while its men’s hockey team is still looking for a conference.
St. Thomas is the first school to make the two-level jump since Buffalo did so in 1993. The rules are a bit different now, though, as in 2010 tweaks were made.
St. Thomas has won 15 national titles in NCAA team sports since 1982. Making the jump from Division III to Division I isn’t just about level of play, either. Of course, St. Thomas will have to be able to compete and put up a fight. But, it’s also about money.
There are other D-III powerhouses in existence, but the financial burden of scholarships, travel, facility upgrades and other factors prove to be difficult to navigate.
In a general statement, here’s St. Thomas president Julie Sullivan:
“D-I is not a homogeneous division, just like D-II and D-III is not. When you say D-I, it doesn’t mean that we’re becoming Ohio State. So we are thrilled for this, because we believe this really broadens the platform by which we have impact. We broaden the geographic reach of our student recruiting, of our visibility through our competition.”