Division III football powerhouse St. Thomas is having to leave the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The MIAC announced Wednesday that St. Thomas would “involuntarily” leave the conference no later than 2021. St. Thomas has been the conference’s dominant football program in recent years and that’s rubbed fellow conference members the wrong way enough that a push to get rid of St. Thomas had started.
“After extensive membership discussions, the University of St. Thomas will be involuntarily removed from membership in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC),” the conference’s statement said. “The MIAC Presidents' Council cites athletic competitive parity in the conference as a primary concern. St. Thomas will begin a multi-year transition immediately and meanwhile is eligible to compete as a full member of the MIAC through the end of spring 2021.”
Any vote to get rid of St. Thomas needed support from nine of the 13 schools in the conference.
“St. Thomas expended tremendous effort to remain in the MIAC and stabilize the conference,” school president Dr. Julie Sullivan said. “However, the presidents came to a consensus that the conference itself would cease to exist in its current form if St. Thomas remained. The primary concern cited by the other MIAC presidents is the lack of competitive parity within the conference, across many sports. They stated that St. Thomas has not violated any MIAC or NCAA rules and leaves the conference in good standing.
“While this decision is extremely disappointing, we will continue to prioritize the welfare and overall experience of our student-athletes. They embrace and represent both academic and athletic excellence and are important contributors to our university’s culture. Additionally, our coaches share the values of advancing comprehensive excellence and are among the best in the country.”
St. Thomas has won 118 games in coach Glenn Caruso’s 11-year tenure, many of them by absurd margins. In 2017, the team shut two different opponents out and scored a combined 181 points in the two games. Would things be different in 2019 if the margins in those games were a few touchdowns smaller?
The school also has the largest enrollment in the conference and previous reports said other schools in the MIAC could look to explore an enrollment limit for the conference to make St. Thomas ineligible.
St. Thomas is one of the founding members of the MIAC and the conference’s statement said the school would be leaving the conference in good standing. While that sentence may exist, it’s hard to see how you can say a school is in good standing with a conference it’s “involuntarily” leaving.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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