As has been expected, the NCAA has allowed St Thomas to make a jump of historic proportions.
In May of last year, it was confirmed that the MIAC was giving St. Thomas the boot from the Div.III conference, essentially for being too good. It was at the time that St. Thomas began seriously entertaining the notion of moving directly to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The problem? The NCAA normally requires a 12-year timeframe for such a transition.
Thus, the school sought a waiver from the NCAA. Expecting a decision in April, the NCAA instead kicked the decision to June because of the coronavirus pandemic. June came and went, and still no decision.
Wednesday, however, the Tommies confirmed that the NCAA has officially cleared the path for the university to make the transition directly to the FCS. St. Thomas will compete in the Pioneer Football League for, obviously, football, and in the Summit League for most of its other sports.
The largest private university in the state of Minnesota will make the transition to the FCS for the 2021-22 academic year. They will also become the first program to make the move directly from DIv. III to Div. I in the modern history of the NCAA.
“Today, as much as ever, I’m proud to be a Tommie as we look to our university’s future,” said athletic director Dr. Phil Esten in a statement. “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.”
With the Tommies’ move, there will be 128 members at the FCS level. That number is 130 in the FBS.