The University of St. Thomas has been voted out of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), and will need to find a new home in time for the 2021 fall sports season.
"After extensive membership discussions, the University of St. Thomas will be involuntarily removed from membership in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC)," a release from the conference says.
"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."
The release goes on to say St. Thomas "will leave 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," said UST President Julie H. Sullivan in a statement. "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."
A search for a new conference home is already in progress.
The Star Tribune reported in April that presidents from the 13-school conference were gathering to discuss the possible ouster of the Tommies, with the newspaper's latest report suggesting that nine of the 13 presidents were in favor of removing them from the MIAC.
"The college presidents who favored removing the Tommies from the conference apparently had those nine votes secured this week, with only St. Thomas, St. John’s, St. Benedict and possibly Bethel said to be against this move."
One reason St. Thomas could have a competitive advantage over the other 12 schools is because of its size.
UST has nearly double or triple the number of undergraduates enrolled than any other MIAC school. Here are the latest (2017) undergraduate students enrolled for all 13 schools, according to Minnesota Private Colleges.
- University of St. Thomas - 6,199
- St. Catherine University - 3,158
- St. Olaf College - 3,035
- Bethel University - 2,930
- Concordia College - 2,841
- Augsburg University - 2,451
- Gustavus Adolphus College - 2,206
- Hamline University - 2,168
- Macalester College - 2,136
- Carleton College - 2,023
- College of St. Benedict - 1,937
- Saint John's University - 1,720
- Saint Mary's University - 1,503
In April, UST Vice President and Director of Athletics Phil Esten emailed Bring Me The News saying they do not want to leave, nor be forced out of the MIAC.
“As a founding member of the conference, we are proud of our history and heritage in the MIAC, and are committed to the league values and DIII ideals," Esten wrote. "We are very interested in doing what we can to stabilize conference membership now and into the future."
The MIAC started in 1920 with founding members Carleton, Gustavus, Hamline, Macalester, Saint John's, St. Olaf and St. Thomas.