(Stats Perform) - The University of St. Thomas has been too good for the Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference - literally - so it's jumping to Division I.
St. Thomas will make the move upward next July after receiving acceptance from the NCAA Division I Council on Wednesday. The Tommies, who requested and received a waiver to bypass D-II, will become the 10th member of the Summit League and also join the Pioneer Football League - a sport not sponsored by the Summit League. Presbyterian was previously accepted into the non-scholarship PFL for next year, which means the membership will grow to 11 programs.
St. Thomas, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, is about to spend its final academic year in the MIAC. Although it was a founding member of the conference, the other members voted the Tommies out in May 2019, citing athletic competitive parity.
St. Thomas has won at least a share of seven of the last 10 MIAC football titles under coach Glenn Caruso. The D-III runners-up in 2012 and '15, the Tommies' .871 winning percentage during the decade was sixth among all 660-plus NCAA programs, trailing only Mount Union, Mary Hardin-Baylor, North Dakota State, UW-Whitewater and Alabama.
"The Tommies were one of the NCAA's most successful football programs at any level over the past decade and they live their university mission on and off the field, which makes them an outstanding institutional fit for us," PFL commissioner Patty Viverito said. "We are thrilled to expand to the Twin Cities, and proud to welcome a program with a track record for graduating players, winning conference titles and playoff games, and serving its community."
St. Thomas ranked third in Division III in attendance average last season at 5,577, which would have ranked second in the PFL.