College Football Team Kicked Out of Division Because It's Too Good


Ninety-nine years ago the University of St. Thomas helped found the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

But St. Thomas won’t last another 99 years in the MIAC, or even another two years. The Tommies have been kicked out of the conference simply because they’re too good.

The school is being “involuntarily removed” from the conference because of its dominance in football and will have to find a new one by the spring of 2021 at the latest.

“The MIAC Presidents’ Council cites athletic competitive parity in the conference as a primary concern,” the MIAC said in a statement. “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.”

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The MIAC competes in Division III, and St. Thomas has been treating the rest of the conference the same way Alabama and Clemson have been dealing with the SEC and ACC.

The Tommies have won six conference titles since 2010 and also reached the Division III national championship game twice over that span.

Last season, St. Thomas outscored its opponents by an average of 45-12 and went undefeated in conference play for the sixth time this decade.

The year before, the Tommies beat fellow MIAC founding member St. Olaf 97-0.

The MIAC’s commissioner, Dan McKane, said the conference would not have survived if St. Thomas didn’t get the boot.

“The MIAC would have collapsed in a year if this action didn’t occur,” McKane said Wednesday, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

One reason cited for the Tommies’ dominance is that the school has more students than every other school in the conference. St. Thomas has more than 6,000 students, which is two-to-three times more than most other MIAC schools.

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It’s not just football in which the Tommies have excelled, as they have won 13 out of the last 14 conference titles in men’s basketball and five straight conference championships in women’s basketball.

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As a result of their dominance across the board, St. Thomas finished 10th in the Learfield Directors Cup standings in 2017-18. That is an award that measures an athletic program’s overall success.

Phil Esten, St. Thomas’ vice president and athletic director called the team’s removal “sad and disappointing,” according to the Pioneer Press, while school president Julie H. Sullivan vowed to keep dominating no matter which conference the school is in.

“Although our athletic conference will change, one thing will not: our commitment to continued academic and athletic excellence,” Sullivan said in a statement.

The Tommies can compete in the MIAC through spring 2021 but can leave earlier if they find a new conference or decide to become an independent.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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