The list of small college football programs that many folks believe could legitimately compete at the Division I (FCS) level is very, very short. According to a short note buried in a TwinCities.com piece, St. Thomas (D-III – MN) is exploring that possibility.
Here’s exactly what the article had to say:
For those that don’t recall, St. Thomas was “involuntarily removed” from their conference by their fellow league members for being too dominant, most notably in football. The FCS Pioneer League is a non-athletic scholarship league that has 10 member schools stretching from Florida, to New York, all the way to California with the scheduled addition of Presbyterian College to the league in 2021 to bring the total number of teams to 11.
When the Pioneer league first formed in 1993, the six original schools had previously sponsored football at the Division I, II and III levels.
On the surface, the move would make some sense. As a Division III program, St. Thomas isn’t able to offer athletic scholarships and schools in the Pioneer league don’t either.
However, according to this Division I Membership Q&A from 2017, the jump from D-III to Division I isn’t possible in today’s landscape. Programs today are unable to reclassify from NCAA Division III to Division I. They would first have to reclassify to Division II first.
We reached out to some folks at St. Thomas for comment, and have not heard back as of yet. Will update when more is clear.
While it doesn’t seem like St. Thomas is making the jump to Division I anytime soon, we’re left to wonder what conference they do find a home with.
Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.