The NCAA issued a statement today which allows St. Thomas (DIII) to reclassify and move to the DI Summit league. The statement read that while the new guidelines for reclassification are under consideration, “the Council indicated it would be receptive to a formal waiver request from Division III St. Thomas (Minnesota) and the Summit League that would allow the school to begin the reclassification process.”
This reclassification comes on the heels of attempts by some Power 5 conferences to slow and/or stop schools from making the leap to DI without the demonstrated capability to do so.
The new guidelines, proposed by the Strategic Vision and Planning Committee, establishes a path for DIII schools that have the ability to make the jump to DI. Still, such a big jump would appear to be rather unique and was disallowed in the past by the NCAA.
Under this proposal, Division III members planning to reclassify to Division I would be required to spend at least one year in the pre-application process. Criteria to move forward from that pre-application period to the existing Division I reclassification process would include, but not be limited to, the following:
- Submitting a strategic plan.
- Conducting a feasibility study for Division I requirements, including provision of athletics scholarships and meeting compliance standards.
- Securing a formal invitation to join a Division I conference.
- Establishing school policies and procedures that reflect a commitment to Division I principles, including academic integrity, diversity and inclusion, and student-athlete health and well-being.
St. Thomas already checked all these boxes when applying to the Summit League so the waiver is expected to be a formality. Now, it appears that the submission of a waiver will seal the deal.
As for other schools that may be considering a jump from DIII to DI, feedback and a vote on this new proposal by the Division I Council is scheduled for April 2021.