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If your school keeps getting dominated by another school, all you have to do is kick them out of your conference. Even if they’re a founding member. And if you can recruit the same kids as they do. The University of St. Thomas is being kicked out of the MIAC no later than 2021, leaving a weird feeling with a ton of fans. What’s next from here? St. Thomas must find a new home, and the MIAC needs to live with their decision.
St. Thomas’ new home
While the Tommies don’t have to find a new place to compete right now, they need to find one soon. We’ll stick to the football team, since they receive most of the attention in this decision. Fortunately for them, they have a couple good options.
First, they could move to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), which provides them with a significant upgrade. They’d face off with school like UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater. Both are national contenders. The competition in that conference would challenge the Tommies, something they don’t frequently experience in the MIAC.
St. Thomas could also move up to Division II and join the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. That conference includes multiple Minnesota teams, but also presents a tougher challenge. St. Thomas would be able to give out scholarships at that level, and might take a step back in their competitiveness.
It’s tough to see St. Thomas go independent, but you never know. The two options above seem to be the best options for the school. If I had to guess, I’d predict that the Tommies head east to the WIAC to compete. That seems to be a good step for them to take, and the WIAC has said they’re looking to add teams outside of the state of Wisconsin. St. Thomas will be just fine no matter what they choose, but it’s too bad they were forced to make this decision.
The MIAC Standard
Think of it this way. Imagine if the Phoenix Suns decided they wanted to kick the Golden State Warriors out of the league? Or if the NFL kicked out the Patriots. Sounds outrageous right? That’s what the MIAC is doing to St. Thomas. Instead of focusing on what they can control, they’re getting rid of the Tommies. They’re not trying to recruit better, develop their kids, or become more competitive. Why do that when you can kick out the best team?
I understand the competitive concern, but kicking out one team isn’t the solution. Outside of St. Thomas, St. John’s, and Bethel, only one school (Concordia) has won the conference since 1998. So what happens when St. John’s and Bethel just become the dominant team? Will the MIAC kick them out too? In a world where we are handing out trophies to kids for just participating, this takes that to a new level.
At the college level, it’s about winning. Plain and simple. Coaches get fired because they don’t win. Kids move up and down the depth chart because they aren’t playing well. The goal is to win. True competitors find a way to win or find a way to adjust and get better.
An involuntary breakup
Honestly, outside of St. John’s, I hope St. Thomas destroys every team they play. St. Thomas wanted to find a way to make this work, but that didn’t work out. For those who think St. Thomas has a “competitive advantage,” you’re right. That advantage is they recruit hard, help their kids buy into their programs, and produce on the field. Competitive advantages that literally every school can choose to have. Instead, let’s just kick out the best team. That makes sense.
Normally, I don’t cheer for St. Thomas, but that’s changed quite a bit. The Tommies didn’t do anything wrong, but are getting punished. The MIAC decided to set a new standard for how they handle adversity, when their schools have control to make changes on their end. What are they going to do when St. John’s or Bethel starts dominating with St. Thomas out of the picture? Are they going to get kicked out too? Seems to be where this conference is headed, and that’s sad.