As the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference approaches its 100th year of existence, there’s apparently some desire to get rid of one of the conference’s original members.
St. Thomas has the largest enrollment in the conference and, perhaps not coincidentally, is also a football powerhouse. That football powerhouse thing has reportedly become a problem for some schools, as there’s been a push in recent weeks to get St. Thomas out of the conference because it’s too good at football.
Seriously. From the Pioneer Press:
Which schools are behind the movement is unclear, but according to several sources it’s primarily a football issue. Last year, St. Thomas beat Augsburg, Carleton, Hamline and St. Olaf by a combined score of 263-14, although it lost to Bethel and conference champion St. John’s and finished third in the standings.
There were mostly shrugs for years over the Tommies’ frequent league titles through the fall, winter and spring sports calendar until [coach] Glenn Caruso arrived in 2008 as the football coach and quickly built a powerhouse. The Tommies posted lopsided victories over the MIAC’s second-division teams; in a three-week period in 2017, they defeated Hamline 84-0 and St. Olaf 97-0.
“That St. Olaf game seemed to get people upset,” said Steve Johnson, Bethel’s football coach. “We started hearing more about it.”
St. Thomas won’t get kicked out of the MIAC in the immediate future. MIAC school presidents met Thursday and agreed to continue discussions surrounding league membership. But it’s not too often that schools openly discuss the potentially tenuous membership status of another school because of its success. And the discussions were continued, not sidelined.
How an expulsion could be done
Conferences like the MIAC simply can’t kick out a school for being too good. There are rules against that sort of thing. So MIAC schools would have to find another “reason” to get rid of St. Thomas. That reason would be an enrollment cap. St. Thomas has the largest enrollment of anyone in the MIAC at over 6,000 students. If an enrollment cap was put in place that was lower than St. Thomas’ enrollment, then the school could then be barred from being in the conference.
Nine of the 13 schools in the conference would have to agree to any rules that would kick St. Thomas out.
St. Thomas didn’t win more than seven games in a season in the 10 years before Caruso became the team’s coach. After the team was 7-3 in his first season, St. Thomas has gone 103-14 in the years since and made the D3 national championship games in 2012 and 2015.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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