St. Thomas was among the seven colleges that formed the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 1920. The MIAC is celebrating its 100th anniversary in this school year, and the Tommies will be departing after a final go-round in 2020-21.
There have been modest variations in the MIAC, but primarily the Tommies have been taking on the same conference rivals for a century. They would be advised to expect more volatility if the NCAA waives its rules and allows the quick move to the Division I Summit League.
That’s a conference that started in 1982 and has undergone three name changes and had 31 various schools as members. The Summit’s 2020-21 variation will involve these nine: North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Omaha, Denver, Oral Roberts, Western Illinois and UMKC.
And now, two area institutions seek to join Denver and Oral Roberts as private schools in the Summit as soon as 2021-22:
St. Thomas, trying to make a historic move from D-III to D-I, and Augustana [S.D.], moving up from D-II and thus escaping the discombobulated, 16-team Northern Sun.
St. Thomas has received officially its Summit invite. Augustana administrators meet with the Summit in the week ahead.
The Tommies and Augustana also share aspirations to compete in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League.
St. Thomas administrators mentioned the Missouri Valley Football Conference as a possibility. That would require an expensive stadium renovation, plus getting thumped by NDSU, SDSU, Northern Iowa, etc. for the foreseeable future.
Already, a Tommies’ move to D-I would require major remodeling of the D-III-level gymnasium, plus finding or building a suitable hockey arena.
That’s big bucks. Taking a few long flights to Pioneer locales wouldn’t cost like building a full-scale FCS football program, with its 63 full scholarships.
Get ready for that homecoming vs. the Presbyterian Blue Hose, Tommies fans
Tommies’ probable locations for football and hockey.
• Pioneer Football League: Butler, Davidson, Dayton, Drake, Jacksonville [Fla.], Marist, Morehead [Ky.] State, San Diego, Stetson, Valparaiso. Presbyterian added in 2021.
• Women’s WCHA: Minnesota, Ohio State, Bemidji State, Minnesota Duluth, Wisconsin, Minnesota State Mankato, St. Cloud State.
• Men’s post-WCHA for 2021-22: MSU Mankato, Bemidji State, Ferris State, Bowling Green, Lake Superior State, Northern Michigan, Michigan Tech.
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