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University of St. Thomas head coach Glenn Caruso leads his football team onto the field at Target Field as the Tommies played St. John's University in a NCAA Division III matchup, the first-ever football game played at Target Field on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. Ginger Pinson / St. Paul Pioneer Press

MIAC announces St. Thomas will be 'involuntarily removed' from the conference

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The University of St. Thomas will be removed from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the conference announced Wednesday, May 22.

St. Thomas is a founding member of the 13-school conference that includes Concordia. The MIAC was formed on March 15, 1920. Below is a statement from the MIAC:

"After extensive membership discussions, the University of St. Thomas will be involuntarily removed from membership in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). 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 is one of seven founding members of the MIAC and will leave the conference in good standing with a long and appreciated history of academic and athletic success."

Amy Kelly, the communications and media relations director for Concordia, sent out the following statement in response to The Forum's request for reaction from Concordia President William J. Craft.

"Concordia supports the announcement made by the MIAC. Any further questions should be directed to the MIAC office."

The MIAC statement cited the following competition statistics:

  • St. Thomas has won 12 consecutive men's and women's MIAC All-Sports trophies (2008-2019), which is awarded to the school that has the best all-sports record during the MIAC academic year.
  • The Tommies have won 47% (155) of the MIAC championships, both team and individual, awarded from 2003-2018. In the past five years (2013-2018), St. Thomas has won 62 conference championships with is 56%.
  • St. Thomas earned 32% (67 of 210) of the MIAC's automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Division III postseason from 2003-2018.

St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan also released a statement, calling the decision "extremely disappointing."

"St. Thomas expended tremendous effort to remain in the MIAC and stabilize the conference," Sullivan said. "However, the presidents came to a consensus that the conference itself would cease to exist in its current form if St. Thomas remained. The primary concern cited by the other MIAC presidents is the lack of competitive parity within the conference, across many sports. They stated that St. Thomas has not violated any MIAC or NCAA rules and leaves the conference in good standing."

The MIAC release included a statement from Gustavus President Rebecca Bergman, who is serving as Chair of the MIAC Presidents' Council.

"We have had to navigate some challenging conversations with respect to membership over the last several years," Bergman said. "After extensive discussions, the Presidents' Council determined that there was no path forward that preserved the MIAC in its current form. For that reason, we have come to this agreement. Throughout this process, our goal has been to preserve the MIAC as a well-respected Division III athletic conference for the sake of our more than 7,000 student-athletes. Supporting the experiences and well-being of those student-athletes will continue to be our primary focus moving forward."

MIAC commissioner Dan McKane added:

"Like every other collegiate athletic conference, we consistently evaluate membership. We have been fortunate to avoid membership changes for 35 years, which really is extraordinary. The attention and passion displayed over the past several months demonstrate how much this conference means to so many people."

The conference release also stated the MIAC staff would have no further comment.