St. Thomas is (almost) in

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.

11 thoughts on “St. Thomas is (almost) in”

  1. Love this development of St. Thomas going D-I. The Tommies are a very similar private to DU (10K students, good academics, private), and add the MSP market to the Summit League, which will help DU’s recruiting in multiple sports. Some of DU’s best recent hoops players come from Minnesota (Rosga, Murkey, Jones, etc.).

  2. The last two conference moves have been good. UMKC is a good replacement for IUPUI (INDY) and St Thomas (MPLS) is a great replacement for Fort Wayne. And, the Horizon League that IUPUI and Ft Wayne departed for is in trouble with Wright State possibly going D2 and University Illinois Chicago on the financial ropes. As much as I criticize Summit League leadership, these are the two best moves they could have made.

  3. St. Thomas also has a football team, which was ranked 19th in last season’s D-III poll. They will remain nonscholarship in D-I, and play in the Pioneer Football League. Yes, that’s actually its name.

    DU should bring football back and join the party. Not because it’s going to draw tons of fans or take support from the Broncos.

    Do it because it’s football. And because DU can bring in impressive student-athletes who will only consider attending a school that provides an opportunity to play football.

    Drake has about 100 players, and the team had a 3.6 GPA last semester. All done without a dime of athletic scholarship money. Budget is about $1M…mostly salaries and travel…team members collectively pay in excess of $3M to attend school. Denver could do this too.

    1. You hit it in the head. Bring back Pioneer Football! I have always said the Pioneer League is a great fit. DU would align itself with like minded schools like Drake, Valpo, Butler, Stetson, Marist. The exposure across the Country would be awesome. I have felt for many years DU doesn’t do a great job of increasing attendance in Basketball because freshman come in and find other activities that Colorado and Denver offer, so they split on the weekends. Add football and see how that changes the entire culture of Fan Support. Work out a deal with The DPS stadium at south to renovate and expand the stadium as a joint partnership. Stadium issue resolved, affordable football program resolved, student interest skyrockets. Denver isn’t the lazy cowtown of the 60’s. Football can be a good fit at DU if done right.

      1. I think Pioneer league football would not do well at DU for the following five reasons:

        1) Prestige/No market. I don’t think DU wants play this level of football with those other private schools. I think when DU does a sport, they try not to do it on the cheap. I don’t see more than a couple thousand people willing to come out to watch non-scholarship football playing the likes of Stetson, Drake, San Diego and Valpo.

        2) Money. While DU would get the tuition money from the players, even without offering scholarships, a Pioneer league football program would cost at least DU $1 million+ per season with a 50-man roster and 5 plane trips a year. They would also need 10-12 coaches and all the sport people needed to run it. Unless donors bankrolled it personally, DU would have to fork out money it doesn’t have, and that money would come out of other DU sports. That would suck.

        3) No Good Facility: Hosting football at Barton or the DU soccer field would be underwhelming, and South High would also feel low level. Renting Mile High would be even worse…

        4) Liability: With the concussion rate in football being what it is, I don’t see DU taking this on in today’s litigious society.

        5) Title IX: Even non-scholarship football would force DU to count 50-110 more male participants as athletes, which would force DU to add more women’s sports at a greater cost to get to gender proportionality.

        Add it all up, and I don’t think there is enough of a benefit to add it…

  4. I hear both of you when you say it needs to be done right.

    The University of San Diego is the model to follow…they go first class. The Toreros dominate recruiting in a region in which (like the Rockies) fans are underserved by FCS-level football. USD has produced several NFL players, and they have done it without scholarships. Outside the Pionner league, they play a mix of FCS state instituions and Ivy League squads.

    Aim for that level of excellence, and you won’t regret bringing back football.

  5. Wow, if there was ever a wrong time to talk about adding a football program, now would be it. It’s a very sketchy proposition during normal times. I”m not trying to be insulting, but it’s a ridiculous proposition right now. Swami is being diplomatic and nice by engaging in the discussion, but I’m sure he would agree that this has zero chance of happening,

  6. Adding football would be a years’ long process. “Right now” is not an applicable concept, regardless of the public health situation.

  7. Didn’t mean to crap too much on the dream. It just seems like it would take a ton of money, effort, and luck to achieve even mediocre results with football. And I have a hard time imagining anyone within DU being interested in the hassle, particularly with the way basketball has struggled. DU has done a good job focusing on what it can do very well…see hockey, lacrosse, gymnastics. Football seems like it would be there, just for the sake of being there, rather than for the sake of pursuing some kind of excellence.

  8. Lurking Dog

    It seems like you are the only one who gets the vision. I personally was the person who helped bring Pioneer football back to DU in the early eighties(Club Team). It was a very fond memory and to this day I still believe having football at DU would be a positive experience. Colorado School of Mines draws the rite kind of Athlete. So could DU. Don’t disrespect the Pioneer League. It produces a very good product and it brings in kids that sometimes get snubbed by the bigger schools. My fraternity brother and teammate at another school I attended prior to DU has done a terrific job at building a solid program at Stetson. This school has a lot of similarities to DU. They had dropped football in the fifties and brought it back. I believe Pioneer League Football is a perfect fit.

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