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St. Thomas could learn its D1 fate this week from NCAA

The Tommies are looking to forgo a 12-year process to jump from D-III.

It's a big week for University of St. Thomas athletics as the NCAA Division I Council will discuss if the Tommies will be allowed to jump from Division III to Division I. 

An NCAA spokesperson confirmed to Bring Me The News that talks centered around the Tommies' future will take place on Wednesday, which is the second of two days of schedule meetings. 

"I can confirm that there will be a conversation about creating a pathway from Division III to Division I at the group’s meeting on Wednesday," the spokesperson said. 

Specifically, the Tommies have been invited to join the Summit League, which includes regional schools North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota and South Dakota State, among others.

St. Thomas remains in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for now, but 13 months ago the Tommies were voted out by MIAC presidents, who cited an unfair competitive advantage for the St. Paul-based university. 

Both the men's and women's programs at the university won the All-MIAC All-Sports trophies for the 12th straight year and instead of looking for a new conference, they hope to jump to Division I and join the Summit League in most sports.

Such a move would be unprecedented as the process usually takes 12 years to complete, with five years of competition at Division II as a requirement. The NCAA also banned schools from making the quick transition in 2011 due to the financial structure and staffing needed to make such a move.

Here's more on the process of jumping from DIII to DI, according to the Tommies:

"Our membership in the Summit League will require an approval from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). We have submitted a request for a waiver to the NCAA from their current rules which state that Division III schools can only reclassify to Division II. Our waiver seeks an exception to this rule and requests permission to enter the NCAA Division I reclassification process directly from Division III."

"If the NCAA ultimately grants the waiver request, St. Thomas will begin competing in the Summit League in fall 2021, after two full final years in the MIAC," UST President Julie H. Sullivan said in a release last October.

The Summit League is currently comprised of nine schools: Denver, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Omaha, Oral Roberts, Purdue Fort Wayne, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Western Illinois.

The conference's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

The obvious omissions are football and hockey, so it's unclear what the Tommies will do in those sports once out of the MIAC. 

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