The St. Thomas Tommies will join the Pioneer Football League in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in 2021, the school announced on Wednesday.
St. Thomas University, located in Saint Paul, Minn., is currently a member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) in Division III. However, on May 22, 2019, the school announced that they were “involuntarily” being removed from the MIAC because of their “competitive” advantages.
The Tommies have won six MIAC titles since 2010 and played in the Division III national championship game in both 2012 and 2015.
Due to their removal from the MIAC, the school applied to the NCAA for a waiver to jump directly from Division III to Division I football, a process that normally takes 12 years under NCAA rules.
“Our St. Thomas community is excited to embark on this journey of building Minnesota’s first private D-I collegiate athletics program and the second D-I program in the state,” said Julie Sullivan, president, University of St. Thomas. “St. Thomas has a long history of academic and athletic excellence and embracing change with an entrepreneurial spirit. This move continues that trajectory.”
St. Thomas will join the Presbyterian Blue Hose as new members of the Pioneer Football League in 2021. Jacksonville dropped their football program earlier this year, which will give the PFL 11-members beginning in 2021. Other current members include Butler, Davidson, Dayton, Drake, Marist, Morehead State, San Diego, Stetson, and Valparaiso.
“The Tommies were one of the NCAA’s most successful football programs at any level over the past decade and they live their university mission off the field, which makes them an outstanding institutional fit for us,” said Patty Viverito, Pioneer Football League commissioner. “We are thrilled to expand to the Twin Cities, and proud to welcome a program with a track record for graduating players, winning conference titles and playoff games, and serving its community.”