St. Thomas Travels to Harvard in Another First for the Tommies' D-I Era (and for Minnesota)

For the first time in the history of the University of St. Thomas, the Tommie football team traveled to Boston to play an Ivy League team. It's a big first for the Crimson, too, as St. Thomas is the first team from Minnesota that Harvard football has seen in its 150-year history.

The origin story behind this historic matchup is as intriguing as the matchup itself. The Star Tribune and Pioneer Press both dug into the details:

Star Tribune logo

From the Star Tribune:

Imagine that: St. Thomas, in its third season since leaving Division III and the MIAC, playing the Harvard Crimson, titans of college football in its formative years, attached to 12 national titles from 1890 through 1920...

A new generation of Carusos might have played a role in finalizing this agreement for the Tommies to open Harvard's season in 2023, and then to wait until 2029 to get a rematch in St. Paul.

Anna Caruso, the oldest of three Caruso children, was with her mother, Rachael, visiting colleges in the summer of 2021, before her senior year at Cretin-Derham Hall.

"Anna had a good résumé and one place they wanted to see was Harvard," Caruso said. "I called Murph to see if he was going to be around, so Rach and Anna might stop in."...

"We had been trying to get this Harvard game on the schedule for a year, and not long after Anna and Rach were there, Murph said, 'OK, we'll sign the paperwork for these games.'

Pioneer-Press-black logo

From the Pioneer Press:

A sizable number of University of St. Thomas alumni, family and friends will gather in Cambridge, Mass., on Saturday afternoon to watch the Tommies football team face Harvard. The game represents another seminal moment for the university, as it continues to build its brand, and for a football program eager to climb the competitive ladder.

For his part, Tommies head coach Glenn Caruso would like to see an Ivy League school on the schedule every year. Getting the first one might prove to be the most difficult, and along with the diligent work of St. Thomas athletic director Phil Esten and his staff, a little serendipity played a role in getting it done...

Discussions between the two athletic programs carried on into the 2021 season. Caruso’s daughter, Anna, now a sophomore at St. Thomas who is in charge of in-game strategy and data research on her dad’s coaching staff, was a senior in high school who had Harvard on her list of possible schools to attend.

Taking advantage of MEA weekend, Anna and her mom, Rachael, visited the Harvard campus while Glenn was busy preparing for Marist, the Tommies’ next opponent. Caruso has known Harvard coach Tim Murphy for years, and contacted him to help facilitate a meeting with the admissions office during his wife and daughter’s visit....

“There were a lot of steps that went into it,” Caruso said, “but that was sort of the tipping point."

Glenn Caruso, Head football coach, University of st. thomas

Soon after, Caruso received a call from Murphy, who mentioned how much he enjoyed the meeting with Anna and Rachael. And he told Caruso to send him the contract that would make the game official.

“There were a lot of steps that went into it,” Caruso said, “but that was sort of the tipping point.