The Summit League extended an offer to the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota to join the conference last Thursday.
Located in the Twin Cities, St. Thomas was a founding member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) in NCAA Division
The team will skip Division II if they transition to the Summit League, and would become Minnesota’s second Division I institution, should their reclassification be granted.
St. Thomas currently has 6,200 undergraduate students, double that of the next-closest school in their current conference. The university received the invitation four months ago and would become the tenth member of the conference should it finalize the move.
“For the Summit League, it gives us a member in Minnesota which we do not currently have, sits in a major media market and provides a like-minded member who looks to compete for championships and graduate quality student-athletes,” USD Athletic Director David Herbster said in an email interview with The Volante.
The university is required to submit a waiver in order to bypass Division II reclassification, as current NCAA rules only allow Division II schools to transition to Division I. If the waiver passes, the Tommies would join the Summit League in the fall of 2021. The university would have to find separate leagues for their football and hockey teams, as the Summit League doesn’t sponsor those sports.
According to an athletic update FAQs posted to St. Thomas’ official site, university president Julie Sullivan formed an 18-person athletics advisory committee charged with evaluating facets such as finance, student-athlete experience, impact of student life, and admissions among others. The research was further reviewed by the school’s Board of Trustees before a final decision was made.
Herbster said he was excited about the potential competition with St. Thomas both athletically and academically.
“For USD, it gives us a member who is close in proximity with an increased presence in Minnesota where we recruit students and student-athletes, and have a large number of alumni,” Herbster said.