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St. Thomas moves closer but still waiting for approval to jump to Division I

An official vote won't happen until April 2021.

Joining the Summit League isn't a sure thing just yet for the University of St. Thomas, but the Tommies did get some good news Wednesday as the NCAA Division I Council moved in a direction that could ultimately lead to UST jumping from Division III to Division I. 

Under current legislation, making the leap from D3 to D1 takes 12 years, including a stop at D2 for at least five years. But a new process that is being considered could would speed that process up to just five years, though the Tommies may get the go ahead to make the jump in time for the 2021-22 athletic calendar. 

"While this legislation is under consideration, the Council indicated it would be receptive to a formal waiver request from Division III St. Thomas (Minnesota) and the Summit League that would allow the school to begin the reclassification process," the NCAA said in a release

A formal vote on the process is expected to happen in April 2021. 

"We will immediately begin work with Commissioner Tom Douple and the NCAA to formally submit our waiver request," said Phil Esten, St. Thomas vice president and director of athletics.

"While I know all of us are anxiously awaiting definitive word on where we will be competing starting with the 2021-22 season, we must remain patient for just a little while longer. As always, I remain optimistic about the future of Tommie athletics, and we look forward to continuing to work with the NCAA on the reclassification process."

Saint Thomas was voted out of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference 13 months ago, with the majority of member presidents citing an unfair competitive advantage for the St. Paul-based university.

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.

According to the Star Tribune, the Tommies hope to join the Pioneer League in football, which is at the FCS level (level that NDSU is in), while men's and women's hockey search for a new league, possibly the WCHA.

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