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Augustana to the Summit?


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On 3/15/2019 at 4:35 PM, UNDfan said:

Another shoe is dropping, this time Metro St of Denver, just as I said would happen.


By summer, the WAC, Summit and Big Sky will be effectively swapping teams.

Just trying to get you fair warning, but all I get is grief.  The Old Testament prophets has similar problems from the Sanhedrin and other “religious”Jews.

In case you missed it a few months back, the "other shoe" emphatically dropped re: Metro State in Denver, and not at all as it was "said to happen" by so-called "prophets": 

Metro State Reaffirms Commitment to NCAA Division II Athletics (msudenver.edu)

One has to wonder:  isn't all the "grief" justified when the "fair warnings" are all just crying wolf?

Anyway, scratch the Roadrunners off the list of potential Summit League additions, at least in the foreseeable future.

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  • 1 month later...
On 5/27/2019 at 1:06 PM, Old Titan said:

I was trying to be polite in my earlier post. 

Here’s something more my typical style:  

“There’s no freaking way.” 


Apparently, there might be after all... 😳

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On 5/25/2019 at 4:44 AM, Hammersmith said:

A huge long shot situation is developing in Minnesota. A Division III private school(University of St Thomas) is getting kicked out of its conference because they've gotten too good. A conference they've been in for literally 100 years(founding member), and whose membership hasn't changed at all in about 35 years. It's actually getting some national(even international) attention.

Anyway, they'll be looking for a new home and there's a lot of debate about where they're going to end up. The safe bet is a neighboring Wisconsin DIII conference, but all the full members of that group are public WI schools. The other DIII local conference(UMAC) fits them even less than the one they're getting kicked out of.

Many think that UST will use this opportunity to move up a division. There's a local DII conference that's a decent possibility(NSIC - which is where Augustana is now). There are a couple more conferences in Great Lakes country, but a Minneapolis college would be a bit of a stretch to their footprints.

The final possibility is that they might try to springboard directly to DI. Minnesota only has the one DI school at the moment, so there is a gap waiting to be filled. And the MSP market would be nice for the Summit or MVC. The big problem, of course, is that the NCAA rules don't allow for a direct move from DIII to DI. As the current rules stand, it would take something like 13 or 15 years for UST to be DI eligible. And that's an eternity. The only thing people are wondering about is if the fact they were forced out of their current conference would make a difference. That maybe if they went to the NCAA with a DI conference invite in hand, they could maybe swing a waiver due to their unusual circumstance. It's pretty doubtful, but there was that situation with Liberty a few years back that shows waivers are possible for stuff even if they aren't likely.


Anyway, I expect UST will end up in the WIAC(DIII) or NSIC(DII), but it's worth keeping an eye on just in case.

Kudos to Hammersmith... he got this right 

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5 minutes ago, ORUTerry said:

Kudos to Hammersmith... he got this right 

Methinks he knew this all along; actually pretty damn classy of him to sample it for us to nibble on, until the main course was ready to be served.

Sf GIF by State Farm

Just shocked (lol) that UNDFan did not pull this scenario out of his crystal ball at any time in the past 18 months.

According to him, ORU would be leaving the Summit soon in search of conference auto-bids in baseball and soccer elsewhere. 

This move to invite St. Thomas seems predicated in part to saving those sports in league play (St. Thomas fields teams in both).


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Thanks for the kudos, but they're undeserved. I just repeated stuff that was already floating around. And as much as I thought it might be a cool idea(St Thomas is way better than Augie), I really didn't think the NCAA was going to give a waiver this easily.

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WHY?????  St. Thomas is one thing, but why Augustana and why now?  This league passed on GCU on a split vote with the Dakotas' and Denver voting against extending an invitation to Grand Canyon University.  Say what you will, GCU has facilities and a budget that makes the Dakotas look like an after thought.  So instead of going for GCU the league extends an invite to a D-III school and is now looking at adding a D-II as well?  From what I  have heard, the Dakotas wanted no part of GCU, basically because GCU could outspend all of them combined.  One other thing about GCU, had they come into the Summit you probably would have had New Mexico State not far behind because they would basically be the last legit school left in the WAC, and would have asked to follow GCU into the Summit.  Denver wanted no part of GCU either because they too did not want the competition/budget/facilities and resources GCU would have brought to the table.  BTW, we were the school who suggested GCU for the Summit.

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There were probably some legitimate reasons for blocking GCU.  They just recently became a non-profit and some believe it is still essentially a for profit institution due to how they structured it.  They also are similar to Liberty in that they have a massive online enrollment which raises academic concerns and it also provides millions in profit to outspend their fellow conference members in athletics. (see the recent building boom the two schools have had in recent years)

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Grand Canyon is a non-starter for the Summit League, for a variety of very good reasons stated earlier in this thread. It’s time to move on from them.

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I understand about GCU.  What I do not understand is that with 347 or whatever D-I schools playing basketball the Summit has to go to D-III and now possibly D-II to find dance partners?  Seriously?  How small-time can the Summit possible get?  I guess we will see soon enough.  Sad, truly sad.

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1 hour ago, ORU82 said:

I understand about GCU.  What I do not understand is that with 347 or whatever D-I schools playing basketball the Summit has to go to D-III and now possibly D-II to find dance partners?  Seriously?  How small-time can the Summit possible get?  I guess we will see soon enough.  Sad, truly sad.

The exact same thing has been posted on this board over the years re: Oakland, IUPUI, IPFW, and practically all the Dakota schools when they joined the Mid-Con/Summit.

How's that worked out, for them and ORU both?

Simple truths:  there wouldn't BE a Summit League if it wasn't a maternity ward for D-1 newbies, and ORU would be in a LOT worse situation if there was no Summit League.

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2 hours ago, Old Titan said:

Hard to tell from this article over the weekend whether Augustana officials are hiding their cards, or simply going "all-in":


I find it funny that Augustana has their case pushed so hard by Sioux Falls media while next to nothing was heard about St. Thomas joining except for a few internet rumors... I think Sanford's price probably went up significantly.

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4 hours ago, ORU82 said:

I understand about GCU.  What I do not understand is that with 347 or whatever D-I schools playing basketball the Summit has to go to D-III and now possibly D-II to find dance partners?  Seriously?  How small-time can the Summit possible get?  I guess we will see soon enough.  Sad, truly sad.

Small time and still can't win hardly anything in any sport. Even baseball, now. 

Sad is right. 

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I'm hoping the Summit will just continue to keep Augie in their back pocket for now. Keep stringing them along in case WIU or someone else leaves or in case we need a 12th school to balance out another add somewhere else. I haven't heard of anyone outside of Sioux Falls that is excited with the idea of them joining.

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22 hours ago, ORU82 said:

I understand about GCU.  What I do not understand is that with 347 or whatever D-I schools playing basketball the Summit has to go to D-III and now possibly D-II to find dance partners?  Seriously?  How small-time can the Summit possible get?  I guess we will see soon enough.  Sad, truly sad.

The Summit is a low major conference so they have to take what they're given.

But I don't think the current configuration is worse than when Chicago St., Southern Utah, and Centenary were in the league. St. Thomas already has a higher ceiling than any of them.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It probably wont amount to anything but yesterday somebody put,

"Hey Augie, Why not stay Division 2??!

Paid for by Concerned Augustana Alumnists"

on a billbord about one mile from the Augustana campus in Sioux Falls.

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18 hours ago, 91jack said:

It probably wont amount to anything but yesterday somebody put,

"Hey Augie, Why not stay Division 2??!

(Secretly) Paid for by Concerned South Dakota State Alumni* Augustana Alumnists"

on a billbord about one mile from the Augustana campus in Sioux Falls.

Fixed ^^^^^^^

* "Alumnists" is not even a word - lol.   https://www.grammarly.com/blog/alumna-alumnae-alumni-alumnus/

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  • 3 months later...


St. Thomas' D-I move looking promising for a smooth-sailing 10-team Summit League

...There is hope, however, in the name of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. The school was accepted for Summit membership last fall with the hope of getting a waiver from the NCAA to go directly from Division III to Division I and bypass Division II.

No school has ever gone directly from Division III to Division I, which currently carries a 12-year reclassification period, but it appears the Tommies are on their way to making it work. I talked to a couple of administrators who have had extensive experience with the NCAA and the feeling is the NCAA is acting more reasonable these days.

Look for the normal four-year reclassification from Division II to Division I to hold true for St. Thomas, with room for more legislation in case any other Division III wants to make the D-I move. NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said St. Thomas cleared the first hurdle at the NCAA convention in January and that’s about as much as he currently knows about the issue.

The Tommies will have to undergo extensive self-studies and show they can handle the Division I compliance issues, which are more intensive than Division III. They’ll have to show they’re investing in their athletic administration. They’ll have to show they’re investing in a lot of everything.

NDSU currently has 15 staff members with an athletic director title of some sort. That doesn’t include Bison Sports Properties, the Learfield IMG College arm that will take over business development next summer. St. Thomas has six athletic director types.

The final NCAA call on the matter is expected to come in April with the Division I Council. If the Tommies receive good news, they’ll begin play in the Summit League in the fall of 2021. And if that happens, the league would be back to 10 members and life will be good.

And that brings us to Augustana University in Sioux Falls. Augie announced in December of 2018 it was going to pursue Division I athletics, but it’s been crickets in Sioux Falls for some time now. It makes for an interesting dilemma: If the Augie D-I movement picks up steam again, does the Summit value an even-number league over another member? If so, then the Vikings may be in trouble for conference affiliation.

“A lot of these issues are presented because of nine teams in the league,” Larsen said. “There are some facility conflicts but the biggest challenge is nine teams. If we can get to 10, that will help and it will be more balanced. We can have travel partners.”

Configuring travel partners is always a good exercise during a winter day with a strong wind. Here’s a guess: NDSU and University of North Dakota; Nebraska-Omaha and Kansas City; South Dakota and South Dakota State; Oral Roberts and Denver; St. Thomas and Western Illinois.

Men’s and women’s doubleheaders Thursday and Saturday. Done. Fans won’t have to check their calendars every other day for the next game.

Back to Valentine’s Day. The Friday game this week means the NDSU men will have conference games this season on every day of the week except Monday and Tuesday. And you want to be Alyson Vander Steen, the director of marketing and fan engagement at NDSU?

Larsen said look for more men’s and women’s doubleheaders next season. The hope is more of a Thursday-Saturday look to the schedule, as much as possible anyway in a nine-team league.

“We all want consistency in dates and times so it’s easier for fans,” Larsen said. “It’s something we’ve talked about in the league and in the athletic directors council. It’s a concern for all of us.”



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  • 3 weeks later...

Too Good For Its Own Conference, St. Thomas Eyes An Unprecedented Leap

The Athletic.com
Feb 20, 2020 

An unprecedented situation could lead to an unprecedented move.

One year after being told it would be kicked out of its conference for winning too much, St. Thomas (Minn.) wants to become the first team to jump directly from Division III to Division I since NCAA divisions were split in 1973.

But there’s an issue: There is no direct path available, and such a move was banned in 2011, due to the required changes. There is a 12-year process to move from Division III to II to I, which includes five years of play at the Division II level.

St. Thomas has the support to make it happen, with an invitation to the Summit League and tentative plans to play in another conference in football. It might have the money, too. But will that be enough?

No waiver process exists, so the NCAA’s strategic vision and planning committee is developing a direct path and transition period from Division III to Division I, with hopes it will be voted on by the Division I Council in April. It would be a five-year reclassification process with requirements yet to be determined. But it’s not set, and the clock is ticking.

As NCAA legislative bodies debate St. Thomas’ future, the Tommies sit in limbo while preparing for their potential future. What opponents should they schedule in 2021? Should the coaches recruit players with the promise of scholarships? How much will it cost to add all those scholarships? Will coaching salaries increase? What about travel? How many people need to be added in compliance?

This is all happening as St. Thomas has just one year left in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

“We feel very positive about a possible resolution in April,” St. Thomas athletic director Phil Esten said.

St. Thomas has begun laying the groundwork for such a move. The school is studying other transitions, leaning on people like Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor for insight, determining what needs to change in facilities and staff, calculating how much will need to be put into scholarships and working on fundraising plans, though it won’t detail the estimated costs yet.

Those costs have been a point of emphasis from Taylor, who was athletic director at North Dakota State when the Bison moved from Division II to Division I in the mid-2000s — a process more stressful than anyone involved imagined. At NDSU, the athletics budget more than doubled within a few years of the move. He said the same would likely need to happen at St. Thomas, which has a budget of about $5 million, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

But Taylor believes St. Thomas is ready for the next level. It has a conference invitation, which NDSU didn’t, and it has a supportive administration. Still, he keeps saying what he told NDSU officials at the time: It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Be ready for bumps along the road.

“Their president and their board have to be all-in,” Taylor said. “That president has to be extremely strong and explain why it’s great for the university and it’s what’s important to us. I think they have all that. I just kind of reiterated that with (Esten) that finding the dollars is going to be the biggest thing.

“And it’s gonna be bigger than what you think it’s going to be.”

St. Thomas was a founding member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference 100 years ago. But last May, the MIAC announced St. Thomas would be “involuntarily removed” from the league after its growth and success had far outpaced everyone else.

The school’s undergraduate enrollment is more than 6,000 students, about double the next-highest MIAC school and more than triple some schools. Its investment in athletics is much higher than its competition. On the field, St. Thomas has dominated the league, winning the conference’s all-sports trophy for 12 consecutive years. Frustration increased in 2017 after an 84-0 football win against Hamline and a 97-0 win against St. Olaf. Esten says the friction was about more than one sport, but those football scores drew a lot of attention, and it eventually boiled over.

St. Thomas was not officially voted out, but the idea was expected to get the required nine out of 13 votes within the league. So an arrangement was made for St. Thomas to leave in spring 2021, giving the Tommies time to find a new home. Not everyone supported the move. St. Thomas’ chief rival, St. John’s, was against booting the Tommies.

Upon the announcement, Esten said all options were on the table, but St. Thomas couldn’t pick where it went. It needed a conference invitation. Division II seemed possible.

Then the Division I Summit League jumped in.

The conference includes nine full-time schools spanning from Colorado to the Dakotas to Illinois, plus four associate members and a future member in Missouri-Kansas City. It’s a geographic fit for St. Thomas.

St. Thomas will play its last season in the MIAC in 2020. (Jack Rodgers / Getty Images)

Commissioner Tom Douple is well-versed in Division I transitions. He’s helped four current members move up from Division II into his conference: NDSU, South Dakota State, South Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha. Before the St. Thomas news was announced, he’d heard rumors about it. When he was in Minneapolis-St. Paul for last year’s Final Four, he visited St. Thomas to get an up-close look, and he liked what he saw. When the MIAC news became official, he went to work with St. Thomas officials. Just like with NDSU, he saw an opportunity to add a winning institution.

“We want St. Thomas to be a part of our league. When and how that happens is the unknown,” Douple said. “We believe it will strengthen our league by having St. Thomas, and I know my Division I commissioners, that’s what all of us are trying to do, strengthen our own conferences. In this case, we believe that would help us.”

The Summit League’s presidents council voted unanimously to extend an invitation, which officially came in October. St. Thomas’ enrollment (around 6,200), alumni base (110,000) and endowment ($519 million) fit the profile of the Summit League’s mix of private and public schools, and the addition of the Minneapolis-St. Paul market is another boost. It would make St. Thomas just the second Division I school in the state.

Are the Tommies ready for the step up in competition? This year’s football team went 8-2. The men’s basketball team is currently 21-2. The women’s basketball team is 18-5. The men’s indoor track and field team has won all 35 conference championships since it began in 1985, and the women have won 32. Not every sport is dominant, but many are.

It took a few years for NDSU to adjust, but the Bison have now won eight of the past nine FCS national titles. St. Thomas’ jump is much steeper.

“Coaches by nature are competitive,” Esten said. “Our coaches are excited about the opportunity. All of us still enjoy the MIAC, the competition, the league, but are excited about the Summit League. Competitive people step up to what’s next, and I think that’s something we all relish and look forward to.”

Any jump from one NCAA division to another requires a transition period. Moving from Division III to Division II takes a minimum of three years. Moving from Division II to Division I takes a minimum of four years. During that transition period, a school can compete at the higher level but is not eligible for NCAA championships until it becomes an active member. For example, Georgia Southern football went 9-3 in 2014 but was not FBS bowl-eligible due to the transition period from FCS, despite an 8-0 Sun Belt record.

The period is meant to let the school catch up to new requirements, but a Division III-to-Division I process doesn’t yet exist.

“There are a lot of rules and regulations that are unique to Division I that aren’t in the Division II or III models,” Douple said. “It’s an adjustment from the compliance aspects to the academic requirements. It’s also being able to meet financial requirements, staffing as well.”

There isn’t much of a compliance department at St. Thomas because there is no need for one in Division III. St. Thomas has one sports information director. There is one strength-and-conditioning coordinator and four athletic trainers listed in the directory. Staffs will grow. Rulebooks will have to be overhauled as the staff learns a new set of regulations.

As a private school, St. Thomas doesn’t make its athletic budget public, but it reported athletic expenses of $4.8 million for the 2017-18 academic year in Department of Education data. That included $1.1 million for all football operations and $72,948 for recruiting across all 20 sports. With the jump up, travel expenses will also massively increase, as St. Thomas goes from a Minnesota-only conference to a league with schools in seven states.

That budget report also included $0 for athletically related student aid because Division III doesn’t have athletic scholarships. That will change with a move up to Division I. Tuition at St. Thomas cost more than $22,000 for the fall 2019 semester, though academic and need-based aid will help. When Taylor says the costs will be more than one thinks, this is one example. But Esten is confident in St. Thomas’ planning.

“We’ve done our due diligence on campus to research what benchmark budgets might look like, revenues, expenses,” Esten said. “We’ve tried to apply similar market data as we look forward, and we feel good about what that operation looks like.”

Even with the Summit invitation, St. Thomas still needs another home for football and hockey, which are not sponsored by the Summit League.

Hockey has looked at the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, but that league is splitting, and the new Central Collegiate Hockey Association could be a better fit. Football has requested membership in the FCS Pioneer Football League, commissioner Patty Viverito said. The PFL is a non-scholarship conference, which would help St. Thomas’ football transition, but travel would increase greatly — the league stretches from San Diego to Florida to New York. For now, that situation is in a holding pattern pending the NCAA’s decision.

“Our athletic directors have met by conference call with representatives from St. Thomas and are favorably disposed, but we’ve not taken any action because it’s premature, pending getting what they need to move to Division I first,” Viverito said.

St. Thomas football head coach Glenn Caruso has been through this before. He was an NDSU assistant when the Bison began the move to Division I and was later a South Dakota assistant for the same move. As Caruso puts it, he doesn’t worry about the ocean. He just worries about his boat.

As St. Thomas head coach, he’s won seven of the past 10 MIAC championships and reached the Division III championship game in 2012 and 2015. Given that success, he says recruiting wouldn’t change all that much with a move up, especially without scholarships. It would just open a bigger pool.

“We’ve always been going after Division I and Division II talent,” he said. “We were 2-8 when we got here, and we had a lot of work to do to move the program where we wanted. So we’ve always recruited FCS, FBS, Division II guys. For us, I’ve had to understand that we weren’t at those programs, so we probably have yielded a lower percentage than we would like, but at the end of the day, it’s about the type of people that you bring into the program. So that part hasn’t changed. As far as the recruiting and how it went this year, it went very similarly to the way it’s gone the last 10.”

Along with Viverito’s PFL duties, she is the commissioner of the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Anyone in the upper Midwest moving to Division I FCS football goes through her. She’s also on the Division I Council, so she’s had an inside look at this process and will have a final vote on it.

At the council’s January meeting, the planning committee developed a five-year reclassification process for schools that meet certain requirements. There are concerns, Viverito noted, that many more Division III schools could look to make the same jump. But she also knows a decision has to be finalized at the April meeting for the sake of St. Thomas.

“I think we’re back to the point where St. Thomas has a more urgent need to get an answer because time is running short relative to what they need to do for scheduling,” she said.

This move would be a transformational change for St. Thomas, athletically and institutionally. It’s a move that was forced upon it. The Tommies didn’t choose to end their century-long partnership in the MIAC. But after being handed lemons, they’re trying to make lemonade. Esten says the reaction from alumni and fans about the potential Division I move has been largely positive, something that’s been felt across the entire campus.

It’s a jump that’s never been made before, but St. Thomas believes it’s well-positioned to be the first — if the NCAA allows it.

“I will tell you emphatically that Phil Esten is a guy we’re very fortunate to be able to have in a scenario like this,” Caruso said. “It’s about having the right leadership, having the right focuses and knowing that you’re going to have to adjust, but at the same time, not changing who you are. In this story, when people are looking for snippets, what gets lost in translation is the teams that seem to do the best job in any transition are the same as the people that do a great job in transition. It’s the ones who don’t stop being who they are and continue that authenticity.

“It’s not where you go, it’s who you go with.”


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Well, this is escalating quickly...

Awkward situation for SL commissioner Tom Douple:  conference darling SDSU is vehemently opposed to Augustana (not wanting to compete locally for sponsors and ticket buyers), while Summit League uber-sponsor Sanford Health is a long-time deep pocket for the Vikings.

Should be an interesting summer...

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The Dakota schools are against this - along with other league schools. I doubt Sanford Health can bridge that divide. They aren’t needed with the addition of St. Thomas. Unless they can somehow reach out and keep St. Thomas from achieving D-1 status

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But I thought ORU was headed to the WAC......😏🤔😎

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