University of St. Thomas 'involuntarily removed' from MIAC

The University of St. Thomas will no longer be part of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). 

MIAC announced Wednesday St. Thomas is being “involuntarily removed” from membership in the conference within two years. The MIAC President's council cited athletic competitive parity across many sports as the primary concern that led to the decision. 

“This has been a conversation for a couple years, and it really escalated in the last couple months for sure," St. Thomas athletic director Phil Esten told FOX 9. "We absolutely fought for St. Thomas. We made it perfectly clear and were very consistent we wanted to stay in the MIAC. MIAC was the home for us and it was a proud home for us. We did everything we could to understand what was at the core of concerns and largely it was around competitive parity.”

St. Thomas will be eligible to compete in the conference through spring 2021. 

St. Thomas President Julie H. Sullivan described the decision as "extremely disappointing." 

According to the school, other MIAC presidents had said they intended to leave the conference if St. Thomas remained. 

"St. Thomas expended tremendous effort to remain in the MIAC and stabilize the conference," she said in a statement. "However, the presidents came to a consensus that the conference itself would cease to exist in its current form if St. Thomas remained." 

Sullivan said the school will begin exploring other conferences immediately.  

St. Thomas has long had a rivalry with St. John's University, culminating in the Tommie-Johnnie football game each fall. The school said they would like to find a way to maintain that rivalry in the future. 

St. Thomas is one of the original seven members of MIAC, which was founded in 1920.