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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.

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

7 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

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