St. Thomas University in Minnesota has been cleared to move its entire athletic program to Division I beginning in 2021-22. The school will begin the transition process this upcoming season.
The move was debated because St. Thomas was Division III; they become the first school to jump from Division III to Division I in the modern-era.
“Today, as much as ever, I’m proud to be a Tommie as we look to our university’s future,” said Dr. Phil Esten, St. Thomas vice president and director of athletics. “I thank the leadership at the NCAA, the Summit League, Pioneer Football League, WCHA and all who have supported our efforts. This decision aligns with our university’s bold vision to ever press forward. I am excited to compete in Division I, while ensuring conditions for our student-athletes to pursue comprehensive excellence.”
In 2021, the school’s women’s hockey program has been accepted into the WCHA. Of course, on the men’s side, the WCHA will cease to exist by then. As of this writing, the St. Thomas men’s hockey program does not have a conference, however, they have reportedly already spoke to representatives from the new CCHA league, which will consist of seven former WCHA members.
“As we’ve gone through the membership process with St. Thomas, I have been impressed with their leadership at all levels, as well as their vision for their University, their athletics programs and their women’s hockey team,” WCHA Women’s League Board Chairman and Wisconsin associate athletic director Jason King said. “This is a big win not only for our league, but also for the sport of women’s hockey.”
The men’s program is currently coached by Jeff Boeser. He’s been the head coach since 2010 and the program has a 38-year streak of winning records at the Division III level.
Currently, St. Thomas’ arena only holds 1,000 people.
In Division III, St. Thomas has won 15 national championships over the last 38 years. Located in St. Paul, it has an enrollment of 10,000 students.