NCAA Division III school being booted from conference over athletic dominance

An NCAA Division III powerhouse is set to be booted from the conference it helped found with six other schools in 1920 for being too successful in athletics.

The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) decided Wednesday to oust the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, citing athletic parity. The Tommies will be “involuntarily removed” in two years.

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“After extensive membership discussions, the University of St. Thomas will be involuntarily removed from membership in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference,” the conference said in a statement. “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.”

St. Thomas, a private Catholic liberal arts university, is the largest school in the MIAC, boasting 6,200 undergraduates – double the enrollment of the next closest schools in the league.

St. Thomas coach Glen Caruso leads his team onto the field for a college football game against St. John's, in St. Paul, Minn. (Jim Gehrz/Star Tribune via AP)

St. Thomas coach Glen Caruso leads his team onto the field for a college football game against St. John's, in St. Paul, Minn. (Jim Gehrz/Star Tribune via AP)

The Tommies have won 12 consecutive MIAC all-sports trophies in both men’s and women’s sports, based on conference finish in each sport. The football team, under head coach Glenn Caruso, has won six conference titles since 2010 and made the national title game in 2012 and 2015.

Other MIAC presidents sought to expel St. Thomas with amended league rules that would enact an enrollment cap, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported last month. St. Olaf, the school that lost to the Tommies 97-0 in a 2017 football game, was the only school to acknowledge the process to the newspaper.

“We are participating in those discussions in good faith,” St. Olaf officials told the Star Tribune.

St. Thomas President Julie H. Sullivan called the conference’s decision “extremely disappointing,” according to FOX 9.

“St. Thomas expended tremendous effort to remain in the MIAC and stabilize the conference,” Sullivan said in a statement. “However, the presidents came to a consensus that the conference itself would cease to exist in its current form if St. Thomas remained.”

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Sullivan said the school would look to join a new conference immediately. It’s unclear which conference it would target.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.