NCAA approves St. Thomas jump to Division I

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Wednesday, the NCAA approved a waiver for the University of St. Thomas to jump from Division III to Division I in athletics.

The school becomes the first program in the modern era to reclassify directly from D-III to D-I college athletics.

With the announcement, The Summit League also announced the Tommies will become the conference’s 10th member in the 2021-22 season. The university also accepted invitations to joining the Pioneer Football League and the Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Women’s League. A conference decision is still pending for men’s hockey.

St. Thomas athletics ‘optimistic’ about possible move to DI

"Our St. Thomas community is excited to embark on this journey of building Minnesota’s first private D-I collegiate athletics program and the second D-I program in the state," said Julie Sullivan, president, University of St. Thomas. "St. Thomas has a long history of academic and athletic excellence and embracing change with an entrepreneurial spirit. This move continues that trajectory."

St. Thomas still in limbo, NCAA pushes vote on D3-to-D1 process

"Today, as much as ever, I’m proud to be a Tommie as we look to our university’s future," added Dr. Phil Esten, St. Thomas vice president and director of athletics. "I thank the leadership at the NCAA, The Summit League, Pioneer Football League, WCHA and all who have supported our efforts. This decision aligns with our university’s bold vision to ever press forward. I am excited to compete in Division I, while ensuring conditions for our student-athletes to pursue comprehensive excellence."

The move comes after the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced last summer that the university will be "involuntarily removed from membership" in the conference after the spring of 2021.