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The St. Thomas football team takes the field in 2019. Photo: Jack Rodgers/St. Paul Pioneer Press via Getty Images

The University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minn.) has been granted permission by the NCAA to jump directly from Division III to Division I after the school was booted from its conference for being too good.

Where it stands: Beginning in the 2021-22 academic year, the Tommies will join the Summit League for most sports.

  • The school's football team — which routed three conference opponents by a combined score of 244-0 two years ago and made the D-III national championship game twice last decade — will join the Pioneer League.

Why it matters: St. Thomas is the first school to make the two-level jump since the current rules were put in place in 2010, which typically mandate a 12-year process with a five-year stop in D-II, but were waived in this unique scenario.

  • Buffalo made the two-level jump in 1993 before the rules were put in place and so did Dayton, though they were already D-I in basketball at the time.

The backdrop: St. Thomas announced last spring that it was leaving the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, its home since 1920, because conference members were preparing to kick them out for being too dominant.

  • The Tommies' success was not a surprise, given they spent more on athletics and had twice as many undergrads (6,200) as any other MIAC school.

What they're saying: "When you look back at the evolution of our school over the last 40 or 50 years, it's been very entrepreneurial in spirit — whether that's going co-ed, moving from college to university, expanding to a second campus or adding a law school," St. Thomas athletic director Phil Esten tells Axios.

  • "We feel this is the next step for us, and we're hopeful that making the move to D-I will expand our reach nationally and extend the St. Thomas brand beyond what has been a strong regional market."

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Oct 13, 2020 - Sports

Coronavirus forced Tampa to miss out on $400 million in sports glory

Tampa skyline. Photo: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay area is having a heck of a sports year.

Yes, but: Its hometown teams have played in empty stadiums, or faraway bubbles, so it hasn't gotten to enjoy the excitement — or reap the economic rewards — that such success typically brings.

Updated 26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat — Study: Trump campaign rallies likely led to over 700 COVID-related deaths.
  2. World: Boris Johnson announces month-long lockdown in England — Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections.
  3. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  4. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.

North Carolina police pepper-spray protesters marching to the polls

Officers in North Carolina used pepper spray on protesters and arrested eight people at a get-out-the-vote rally at Alamance County’s courthouse Saturday during the final day of early voting, the City of Graham Police Department confirmed.

Driving the news: The peaceful "I Am Change" march to the polls was organized by Rev. Greg Drumwright, from the Citadel Church in Greensboro, N.C., and included a minute's silence for George Floyd. Melanie Mitchell told the News & Observer her daughters, age 5 and 11, were among those pepper-sprayed by police soon after.

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