Is St. Thomas voluntarily leaving the MIAC?
No. As a founding member, St. Thomas expended tremendous effort to maintain membership in the MIAC.
Why was St. Thomas forced to leave the MIAC?
The primary concern cited by the presidents was competitive parity, across many sports. The MIAC acknowledges that St. Thomas leaves the conference in good standing with a long and appreciated history of academic and athletic success.
Was there any possible option for St. Thomas to stay in the MIAC?
No. While St. Thomas was committed to staying, other MIAC presidents communicated their intentions to leave the conference if St. Thomas remained. There was consensus that the conference would cease to exist in its current form if St. Thomas remained.
What’s next for St. Thomas?
Led by Vice President and Director of Athletics, Phil Esten, and involving members of our community, we immediately begin a deliberative process to explore other conferences. The strength of our athletic programs, our institutional commitment to excellence and our location in the metro area will make us an attractive candidate to other conferences. While our athletic conference will change, one thing will not: our commitment to both academic and athletic excellence.
How will St. Thomas determine which conference to join?
Our commitment is to continue to provide excellence in our athletic programs while maintaining our academic standards, as well as prioritizing the student-athlete experience. An advisory committee led by Vice President and Director of Athletics Phil Esten will review all options, and ultimately, President Julie Sullivan will make a recommendation to our Board of Trustees for their consideration and approval. Once we have a sense for what might be the best fit for St. Thomas, we will need to secure an invitation from that particular conference before we can proceed. We will keep our community informed of our progress.
Will a move to a different conference drive a change in admissions standards?
No. Our admissions standards remain fully in our control. We are committed to admitting students capable of successfully graduating from St. Thomas in four years. We are proud of increases in our four-year graduation rate and remain committed to continued improvements. We hold our student-athletes to high academic standards and that will not change. In fact, currently our student-athletes graduate at higher rates at St. Thomas than our broader student population.
Other conferences do not support the same sports programs that St. Thomas currently has. Is it anticipated that St. Thomas will drop or add sports?
St. Thomas would like to remain with the same sports programs that it has today. Should the conference we join not offer a sport that we have currently, we will explore all options (e.g., affiliate memberships) in order for all our varsity sports to continue playing.
Is it anticipated that St. Thomas would expand its current athletic facilities?
It is premature to speculate on whether any athletic facilities would be impacted. Should expanded facilities become necessary, we will explore all options both on and off campus.
How will St. Thomas fund any incremental costs of changing conferences?
While we cannot say for sure until we know whether there will be incremental costs, fundraising likely will play a major role.
How will current student-athletes be impacted by this decision?
Our coaches and entire athletic staff will work hard to ensure that our student-athletes continue to have a positive and competitive experience as Tommies. St. Thomas is eligible to compete in the MIAC for the next two years (through spring 2021).
What will happen to the annual Tommie/Johnnie football game?
We look forward to hosting St. John’s this fall at Allianz Field. We would like to find a way for this historic rivalry to continue into the future.
Answers to additional reader questions
Is St. Thomas planning to move to a Division-II or even Division-I conference?
St. Thomas will immediately begin a deliberative process to identify a new conference. An advisory committee led by Vice President and Director of Athletics Phil Esten will examine all options available to the university, including options for remaining at the D-III level, or moving to a different level. Once the best fit has been identified, we will then need to secure an invitation from that conference. We will keep our community informed of progress.
Does this announcement impact St. Thomas’ relationship with other associations such as the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC) and Minnesota Private College Council (MPCC)?
St. Thomas’ association with ACTC and MPCC is independent of its membership in the MIAC.
If you have additional questions not addressed above, please submit them here. We will do our best to identify themes in questions submitted and, as answers become known, we will add to the above.