Author Topic: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas  (Read 6108 times)

Offline D3Grad

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MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« on: April 08, 2019, 04:50:47 pm »
For all who do not know St. Thomas may not be a D3 member much longer.  The MIAC conference to put to a vote the end of the month whether St. Thomas is to be ousted.  This is not coming from any illegal behavior but a disparity amongst student population vs academic success.  St. Thomas has roughly double to population of the next largest MIAC school.  This could be a sad exit for a program that just introduced itself into the national discussion as a quality program. Link below to a news report and more information.

http://www.startribune.com/miac-rivals-plot-ouster-of-st-thomas/508145182/

Offline Gregory Sager

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2019, 05:14:34 pm »
A large number of people, both on d3boards.com and in the press as well, believe that the move to oust St. Thomas from the MIAC (which Pat Coleman, with a nod towards the term "Brexit", labeled "Tomtoss") is primarily motivated by football -- specifically, the manner in which the Tommies drub their MIAC opponents by fifty points or more on a semi-regular basis.
"Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.. -- John Wooden

Offline Buck O.

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2019, 07:49:21 am »
For all who do not know St. Thomas may not be a D3 member much longer.  The MIAC conference to put to a vote the end of the month whether St. Thomas is to be ousted.  This is not coming from any illegal behavior but a disparity amongst student population vs academic success.  St. Thomas has roughly double to population of the next largest MIAC school.  This could be a sad exit for a program that just introduced itself into the national discussion as a quality program. Link below to a news report and more information.

http://www.startribune.com/miac-rivals-plot-ouster-of-st-thomas/508145182/

Even if St. Thomas were to be thrown out of the MIAC, why would they cease being a D3 member?

Offline jknezek

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2019, 09:29:25 am »
For all who do not know St. Thomas may not be a D3 member much longer.  The MIAC conference to put to a vote the end of the month whether St. Thomas is to be ousted.  This is not coming from any illegal behavior but a disparity amongst student population vs academic success.  St. Thomas has roughly double to population of the next largest MIAC school.  This could be a sad exit for a program that just introduced itself into the national discussion as a quality program. Link below to a news report and more information.

http://www.startribune.com/miac-rivals-plot-ouster-of-st-thomas/508145182/

Even if St. Thomas were to be thrown out of the MIAC, why would they cease being a D3 member?

There aren't too many likely landing spots for a conference for St. Thomas in D3. Given the way the school has changed, recent hire as AD, there is speculation they were on a path to D2 or eventually D1 at some point. This may be a kick in the pants to get that moving. Being booted from the MIAC doesn't require them to move divisions, but being an Independent would be a very difficult spot.

Offline D3Grad

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2019, 10:07:02 am »

Even if St. Thomas were to be thrown out of the MIAC, why would they cease being a D3 member?

There aren't too many likely landing spots for a conference for St. Thomas in D3. Given the way the school has changed, recent hire as AD, there is speculation they were on a path to D2 or eventually D1 at some point. This may be a kick in the pants to get that moving. Being booted from the MIAC doesn't require them to move divisions, but being an Independent would be a very difficult spot.

I would like St. Thomas to stay D3 in regards to soccer as that is all I know.  The program was built for the D3 game.  Many of the players are those who had opportunities to play at higher divisions but wanted the D3 environment of the student-athlete and much less the athlete-student.  An independent sounds great for soccer in my mind as competition is plenty good within Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Northern Illinois but I do not know how well this works for all other sports.  As said before, this stems as a football issue but St. Thomas across all sports in Men and Women do very well. 

Offline jknezek

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2019, 10:19:20 am »

Even if St. Thomas were to be thrown out of the MIAC, why would they cease being a D3 member?

There aren't too many likely landing spots for a conference for St. Thomas in D3. Given the way the school has changed, recent hire as AD, there is speculation they were on a path to D2 or eventually D1 at some point. This may be a kick in the pants to get that moving. Being booted from the MIAC doesn't require them to move divisions, but being an Independent would be a very difficult spot.

I would like St. Thomas to stay D3 in regards to soccer as that is all I know.  The program was built for the D3 game.  Many of the players are those who had opportunities to play at higher divisions but wanted the D3 environment of the student-athlete and much less the athlete-student.  An independent sounds great for soccer in my mind as competition is plenty good within Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Northern Illinois but I do not know how well this works for all other sports.  As said before, this stems as a football issue but St. Thomas across all sports in Men and Women do very well.

I think some of this stems from football, no doubt. But I think a lot of it stems from the way St. Thomas has changed over the last 20 years. It is no longer reflective of the other MIAC schools. Now plenty of conferences in D3 have outlier schools and don't have a problem with that setup. But other conferences have been fairly pure to keeping mission and values aligned. There seems to be a part of the MIAC that doesn't want to put up with an outlier who is kicking the crud out of them, not just in football but in other sports as well. And there is a portion of the MIAC that doesn't care and is happy to have elite competition regardless of mission and values.

Is football part of the driving force? Absolutely. But I don't think this is all about football. It's about the athletic arms race, it's about what it takes to be nationally relevant in D3 athletics overall, it's about small liberal arts versus large regional university values, its about admissions philosophies, it's about having a collegial relationship with your colleagues and fellow institutions... in other words, it's about a lot of things that have been building for a very long time both inside and outside athletics and most of them have to do with the coming financial changes for colleges.

I would agree that football is the catalyst to set off this action now, but football isn't the reason the pot started and approached its boiling point.

Offline EB2319

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2019, 11:05:10 am »
Can someone educate me on the backstory? I see they're routinely smoking everyone in football, but what's different about the school compared to their league peers, and how have they changed in the last 20 years? I'm not familiar with the conference at all, and as someone pointed out, there are plenty of other conferences with outliers. For example, I'm not sure what Stevens has in common with future MAC-Freedom conference mates Delaware Valley or FDU-Florham.

Offline D3Grad

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2019, 11:19:30 am »


I think some of this stems from football, no doubt. But I think a lot of it stems from the way St. Thomas has changed over the last 20 years. It is no longer reflective of the other MIAC schools. Now plenty of conferences in D3 have outlier schools and don't have a problem with that setup. But other conferences have been fairly pure to keeping mission and values aligned. There seems to be a part of the MIAC that doesn't want to put up with an outlier who is kicking the crud out of them, not just in football but in other sports as well. And there is a portion of the MIAC that doesn't care and is happy to have elite competition regardless of mission and values.

Is football part of the driving force? Absolutely. But I don't think this is all about football. It's about the athletic arms race, it's about what it takes to be nationally relevant in D3 athletics overall, it's about small liberal arts versus large regional university values, its about admissions philosophies, it's about having a collegial relationship with your colleagues and fellow institutions... in other words, it's about a lot of things that have been building for a very long time both inside and outside athletics and most of them have to do with the coming financial changes for colleges.

I would agree that football is the catalyst to set off this action now, but football isn't the reason the pot started and approached its boiling point.

Kudos to you for seeing the situation as it is.  This is a multi-headed beast.  Football as a catalyst is a great way to explain.  St. Thomas is much different than the other MIAC schools.  They are in a prime location to continue growing as a university.  There are other schools in the MIAC who are also in the prime twin cities location but have chosen not to grow which is where St. Thomas doesn't fit the MIAC "identity." Is this the fault of their own for choosing to expand and take advantage of the market?  Up for debate.  One thing that has not changed much over the past 20 years is the undergraduate enrollment has grown less than 1000 students, 5400 to 6200.  We know athletic success is not based on enrollment size at the collegiate level.  It is recruiting and reputation.  To quote field of dreams, "If you build it, he [they] will come."

Offline jknezek

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2019, 11:20:16 am »
Can someone educate me on the backstory? I see they're routinely smoking everyone in football, but what's different about the school compared to their league peers, and how have they changed in the last 20 years? I'm not familiar with the conference at all, and as someone pointed out, there are plenty of other conferences with outliers. For example, I'm not sure what Stevens has in common with future MAC-Freedom conference mates Delaware Valley or FDU-Florham.

Some conferences are ok with outliers. Others aren't. That is what the MIAC is deciding right now. Where do they fall? STU is a regional university. Big grad schools, large enrollment both grad and undergrad. They behave like a regional university and make no bones about their desire to become a national university. That is different from a liberal arts school. The rest of the MIAC is generally smaller to small liberal arts. A few graduate schools, but nothing really comprehensive like having law, business and, as STU has discussed several times, adding a med school as well.

Admissions encompass a much wider target at STU, especially as they added a community college to their pipeline as well. Most of this was done over the last 20 years, though STU had grown to their current undergrad population mostly in the 90s, so that portion of the changes stretches back farther.

While not all the MIAC schools are high ranking academic schools, several are. Mac and Carleton and St. Olaf's all feel they belong or can become top tier academic private liberal arts schools. Others in the conference don't really reach that tier, but at least they are liberal arts focused. So St. Thomas is truly an outlier and continues to be more of one as they have taken a different and, one would be remiss to not accede, a very successful track, to become a regional/national university.

Basically it's an argument over what is most important to the MIAC. Being of like minds, or being a geographically convenient conference with an outlying powerhouse. I find it fascinating.

Personally I don't really see anything wrong with either position. I think conferences like the SAA or MWC are great examples of D3 athletics. The schools are like minded, the student athletes tend to be comparable, the conferences are competitive and interesting overall. I also see the point of having a geographically compact conference, regardless of membership, because it cuts travel time and expenses, issues that are and should be important to D3 members. And I see conferences that are simply marriages of convenience. And there is nothing wrong with that as it provides easy scheduling and guaranteed opponents and schedules in areas where that could be difficult.

There are good reasons to keep STU in the MIAC. There are also valid reasons to say they don't fit. It's really a battle over what the MIAC wants to be. Right and wrong don't really apply, though I have to admit, voting out a founding member who didn't want to leave and hadn't done anything wrong from an NCAA rules point of view, would be a tough pill for me to swallow if I were sitting in that room.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2019, 11:29:39 am by jknezek »

Offline D3Grad

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2019, 11:38:29 am »
Can someone educate me on the backstory? I see they're routinely smoking everyone in football, but what's different about the school compared to their league peers, and how have they changed in the last 20 years? I'm not familiar with the conference at all, and as someone pointed out, there are plenty of other conferences with outliers. For example, I'm not sure what Stevens has in common with future MAC-Freedom conference mates Delaware Valley or FDU-Florham.
In short, the MIAC has some very prestigious academic institutions.  Carleton being top tier liberal arts in the nation.  Macalaster and St. Olaf not far behind.  Schools with large endowments that divert very little to no money to athletics, hence St. Olaf alumni and others raising the majority of funds to build new ice arena.  Appears St. Olaf did invest some capital.  St. Thomas has a lot of funds given to athletics.  St. Thomas is also much larger than other MIAC schools and has, from an outsider perspective, easier academics.  Some MIAC schools do not believe St. Thomas fits the MIAC values.  The MIAC 4 core values are, quality athletics, academics, student-athlete well-being, integrity.  And their Mission statement, "The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference strives to guide, govern and support fair and equitable athletic competition and promote student-athlete well-being among its members. The Conference recognizes and celebrates the important contribution competitive athletics can make to the quality of an education experienced in a context in which the academic program is paramount."

Offline Gregory Sager

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2019, 02:07:58 pm »
There are two questions at work in this matter. One concerns UST. At this point, given the school's size and scope, its peers are such fellow mid-sized urban midwestern Catholic universities as St. Louis, DePaul, Dayton, Creighton, Loyola IL, and Marquette, rather than St. Mary's MN and St. John's, to say nothing of Carleton, St. Olaf, and Macalester. The question is whether St. Thomas wants or is willing to go the next step and join its institutional peers, or if it insists upon maintaining its status quo as a big fish in a small pond (both in terms of enrollment -- I think that at this point NYU is the only D3 private school that has a larger undergrad enrollment than UST -- and in terms of all-sports competitiveness).

The other question concerns UST's fellow MIAC members, and whether tradition and the chance to regularly test themselves against top-notch competition outweighs UST's across-the-board dominance (the Tommies are actually more dominant in women's sports than in men's sports, but it's nevertheless the best athletic department in the league in terms of men's sports) as well as some of the bad blood that's emerged between UST and some of the other schools both on and off the field of play.
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Offline Buck O.

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2019, 06:34:47 pm »
A few thoughts here.  First, now I know a lot more about UST than I knew before.  I didn't realize it was so big, which does help to explain the issues it might face in finding a conference if it were expelled from the MIAC (assuming it doesn't try to join the Big East, which I think would be a bit of a jump).

With that said:  UST finished 16th among D3 schools in the Learfield Director's Cup last year; the next-highest finishing MIAC schools were GAC (43rd) and Carleton (68th).  The 15 schools that finished ahead of UST have the following numbers of undergraduates, according to Google:

Williams 2080
MIT 4602
CMS 1328 + 844 + 973 = 3145
Emory 8079
Midd 2561
WashU 7604
Hop 5615
Tufts 5541
Amherst 1836
Ithaca 6969
SUNY Geneseo 5494
Chicago 6286
W&L 1890
IWU 1893
CNU 5051

Several of these schools are in the 2000-3000 undergrad range that is typical of the non-UST schools in the MIAC, and if I go a little further down the Learfield list, Stevens in 17th has 2892 undergrads and Wartburg in 18th has 1600.  So it's certainly possible for schools of that size to compete with UST across the board.  The question they need to answer for themselves is whether they want to try (which I realize is essentially the same question that Mr. Sager posed).

Offline GK79

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2019, 10:33:38 am »
If St. Thomas is that large and looking to expand its national reach, and if the MIAC is successful in ousting STU, and if STU wants to continue to be a D3 school, perhaps the Tommies should consider petitioning to join the UAA.  There are a couple of schools in that conference that are relatively close to STU (Chicago and Wash U), so it might be a reasonable fit. 

The problem is football.  The UAA doesn't offer much in that regard. Many of the football playing UAA schools are affiliated with other conferences (for example, Chicago in the MWC and Wash U in the CCIW, etc.).  Perhaps they could join the UAA for other sports and play football as an independent or look to another more regional conference for affiliate membership in football.  Or perhaps they could join the UAA and persuade the other schools that play football as an affiliate member of a different conference to play within the UAA.

OR, maybe they look to a regional D2 conference like the GLIAC or the GLVC.  Those would certainly be better fits from a travel perspective than the UAA.

Offline jknezek

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2019, 10:56:25 am »
If St. Thomas is that large and looking to expand its national reach, and if the MIAC is successful in ousting STU, and if STU wants to continue to be a D3 school, perhaps the Tommies should consider petitioning to join the UAA.  There are a couple of schools in that conference that are relatively close to STU (Chicago and Wash U), so it might be a reasonable fit. 

The problem is football.  The UAA doesn't offer much in that regard. Many of the football playing UAA schools are affiliated with other conferences (for example, Chicago in the MWC and Wash U in the CCIW, etc.).  Perhaps they could join the UAA for other sports and play football as an independent or look to another more regional conference for affiliate membership in football.  Or perhaps they could join the UAA and persuade the other schools that play football as an affiliate member of a different conference to play within the UAA.

OR, maybe they look to a regional D2 conference like the GLIAC or the GLVC.  Those would certainly be better fits from a travel perspective than the UAA.

The UAA would have no interest in STU at this time. The academic profile is not even remotely compatible and the UAA is very much a mission and values grouping of schools.

Offline Gregory Sager

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Re: MIAC to vote to oust St. Thomas
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2019, 10:56:38 am »
If St. Thomas is that large and looking to expand its national reach, and if the MIAC is successful in ousting STU, and if STU wants to continue to be a D3 school, perhaps the Tommies should consider petitioning to join the UAA.  There are a couple of schools in that conference that are relatively close to STU (Chicago and Wash U), so it might be a reasonable fit. 

The problem is football.  The UAA doesn't offer much in that regard. Many of the football playing UAA schools are affiliated with other conferences (for example, Chicago in the MWC and Wash U in the CCIW, etc.).  Perhaps they could join the UAA for other sports and play football as an independent or look to another more regional conference for affiliate membership in football.  Or perhaps they could join the UAA and persuade the other schools that play football as an affiliate member of a different conference to play within the UAA.

The problem isn't football. The problem is academics, mission, and institutional reach. UST is a Catholic regional classroom-based university of modest academic status. The UAA schools are high-powered national research universities of secular orientation, massive financial resources -- most of them have endowments that range into the billions -- and an elite academic status that is up there with the Ivies and the NESCAC. Each of the UAA schools is a member of the American Association of Universities, the exclusive club that contains the sixty or so top research universities in the nation. UST isn't anywhere near being a university of AAU status, in large part because it isn't even a research university to begin with.

Realistically, the only other D3 schools that would be a fit for the UAA are Johns Hopkins, which used to be a UAA member before opting out, and perhaps MIT. (Caltech has the academic, research, and financial bona-fides, but Caltech wants no part of making its intercollegiate sports be as comprehensive and as competitive as those of the UAA schools.)

If UST really wants to stay D3, its best bet might be to apply for membership in the WIAC. Believe it or not, there's no rule in the WIAC constitution that says that full members have to be branch campuses of the University of Wisconsin system -- or so I've been told by a Wisconsin-based D3 athletics insider. It would mean that men's soccer would have to play as an independent, but UWW and UWP have shown that that's a viable option.

OR, maybe they look to a regional D2 conference like the GLIAC or the GLVC.  Those would certainly be better fits from a travel perspective than the UAA.

The D2 possibility for UST that's being floated right now on the MIAC football board is the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The NSIC already contains several Minnesota-based members, and it's a 14-school league that is about to lose a member (Augustana SD) to D1.
"Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.. -- John Wooden