NCAA Ruling Allows D-III St. Thomas to Make Unprecedented Leap to D-I

Some guy

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Agreed, I don't think the long term plan is to stay in Pioneer. I think they spend some time building the program further and then move up to begin taking away the talent going to the Dakotas. They are moving to D1 because of football, not to play for years in a geographically uninteresting league like the Pioneer.
They are not moving to d1 for football. They are moving to d1 for national marketing as a national university rather than a Minnesota university.

basketball is the easiest road to more publicity
 

Schnauzer

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Have to also understand the "level" of Division I that St. Thomas is entering. When you hear "Division I" don't immediately think Big Ten or Big 12.

St. Thomas basketball arena has about 1800 capacity. At some point they may need to upgrade, but it will likely do the trick for most of the games in relation to the rest of the league:

SUMMIT League Home MBB Attendance Average – Overall
1. North Dakota State – 2,676
2. Oral Roberts – 2,398
3. Omaha – 2,393
4. South Dakota – 2,221
5. South Dakota State – 2,177
6. North Dakota – 1,551
7. Purdue Fort Wayne – 1,109
8. Denver – 991
9. Western Illinois – 485


Pioneer League football averaged 3300 fans per game last year for home games. St. Thomas' O’Shaughnessy Stadium seats almost 6,000 with standing room getting it to 8,000.

Hockey will likely need to build a new rink, although the "high school rink" you speak of is the St. Thomas Ice Arena, which seats 1000 (which isn't the smallest D-I men's hockey facility, but close). However, it has some great amenities for dry land training and such, so they could use it until a new one is built.

The AD has already suggested for bigger games they could rent out larger facilities around the cities.
Wow! Gustavus would have the biggest basketball arena capacity, by far, if it were in the Summit League. Capacity 3500 and it has been packed a few times for college games over the years. Sort of a low tide for the program right now so those capacity games were back in the 00's.
 

Panthadad2

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Then you’ve never met 90% of high school football players.

there are players who turn down full ride d2 to play at drake or walk on at a scholarship d1 program just to say they are d1

not saying they are smart but that’s just the way it is
Ha ha ha ha!
 

AO54

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Wow! Gustavus would have the biggest basketball arena capacity, by far, if it were in the Summit League. Capacity 3500 and it has been packed a few times for college games over the years. Sort of a low tide for the program right now so those capacity games were back in the 00's.
You're confusing capacity with average attendance, the only gym smaller in the Summit is the 3300 seat Betty Engelstad Center at North Dakota. Average size is 6,000.

If the Tommies had a gotten a little luckier with the timing when they got the 60 million from the Andersons they could have built a much bigger arena. They had the money to put in 8,000 seats, but didn't want it to feel too empty for most D3 games.
 
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oak_street1981

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Unless they make a move to scholarship one day, I really think their on-campus stadium is just fine. Could add more seating to the visitor side, but how many away fans are realistically going to travel to St Paul to watch teams like Butler, Valpo, Dayton? Probably a few, but guessing well less than a thousand. Drake could get some fans driving up. I’m sure they’d love to start a football rivalry there.
Yes, they could add a lot of seats in the end zones, and redo the east side if they really wanted to.

My guess is they add some seats and some hospitality deck like areas, but play any bigger games they can arrange at us Bank Stadium or the soccer Stadium nearby.

I am sure there be a push for the Xcel energy center for some basketball games to demonstrate they are Big East worthy, or at least boost revenues
 

oak_street1981

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You're confusing capacity with average attendance, the only gym smaller in the Summit is the 3300 seat Betty Engelstad Center at North Dakota. Average size is 6,000.

If the Tommies had a gotten a little luckier with the timing when they got the 60 million from the Andersons they could have built a much bigger arena. They had the money to put in 8,000 seats, but didn't want it to feel too empty for most D3 games.
The 1980s era UST gym probably seated 2x the current gym.

My recollection is that the saint Olaf facility is pretty large, but not nearly as nice as the Gustavus Fieldhouse noted by Schnauzer.

St John's was able to jam a lot into their Fieldhouse as well.

The Carleton Gym is my favorite, I used to play "noon ball" there a lot.
 

tjgopher

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I had never heard of the league and man, is that conference spread out all over the place. With the addition of St. Thomas, the now have teams in states that border three of the four U.S. continental boundaries (Pacific Ocean--San Diego), (Atlantic Ocean--Stetson and Davidson), and now St. Thomas with the Canadian border.
Technically, that league has states that border all four US boundaries. California (San Diego) also borders Mexico.
 

oak_street1981

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In his STrib column today, Reusse said the rumor is a 3k b-ball/hockey arena on the south campus.
Good catch, MPLS, the South Campus has always been a point of contention. This would be the old Seminary campus that UST took over 30 years ago, other than the dedicated buildings the Diocese controlled.

The South campus has some very under utilized buildings that could be demolished and a giant lawn facing East River Road where an arena could go (Brady Center), with some great west facing common areas for the fans. I hope UST build an arena right here.

My guess is that it does not happen there. The elitist neighbors view this as their private park, and UST has backed down over the years when anything was proposed for this area.

My guess is they abandon the old football practice fields by Laurel and Cretin (now the baseball fields and do something there, but I like the south campus idea on East River Road.

Okay I did not read the Ruesse article, so they might be talking about the softball field area right on Cretin, and there is a room for an Arena there as well. Worst case they demolish the Brady Center and build something up the hill from River Road and keep the green space by the River Road intact to pacify the neighbors.

One thing will never change, the neighbors and UST will never get along.
 

50PoundHead

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Technically, that league has states that border all four US boundaries. California (San Diego) also borders Mexico.
My geography was foggy and you are absolutely correct. St. Thomas completes the league's need to cover all four borders.

oakstreet, my daughter was a pretty decent gymnast/track runner and she was recruited by the University of San Diego and when she first told me I thought she was talking about San Diego State, but when I read the recruiting letter I discovered the difference. You're right in that it's a little known fact (at least outside the University of San Diego). Undergraduate enrollment is almost the same as that of St. Thomas.
 

Herd

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USD has been the perennial power in Pioneer League football, making the FCS playoff field, and even willing a couple 1st round games.
 

Denver_Gopher

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Then you’ve never met 90% of high school football players.

there are players who turn down full ride d2 to play at drake or walk on at a scholarship d1 program just to say they are d1

not saying they are smart but that’s just the way it is
A high school teammate of my son's did exactly this and went to Butler. D2 doesn't allow full scholarships but he had 50% scholarship offers from every D2 school in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference
 

MplsGopher

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Yes, they could add a lot of seats in the end zones, and redo the east side if they really wanted to.

My guess is they add some seats and some hospitality deck like areas, but play any bigger games they can arrange at us Bank Stadium or the soccer Stadium nearby.

I am sure there be a push for the Xcel energy center for some basketball games to demonstrate they are Big East worthy, or at least boost revenues
The soccer stadium and USB stadium wouldn't be necessary for a long time, I would think, unless for (semi-)annual UST SJU rivalry game.

If they wanted to build a new arena or some other facilities on the current football/track stadium, they could work with the city or SPPS (not sure which one owns it) to expand/renovate Griffin stadium at Central high school. Just a wild idea.
 

MplsGopher

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Good catch, MPLS, the South Campus has always been a point of contention. This would be the old Seminary campus that UST took over 30 years ago, other than the dedicated buildings the Diocese controlled.

The South campus has some very under utilized buildings that could be demolished and a giant lawn facing East River Road where an arena could go (Brady Center), with some great west facing common areas for the fans. I hope UST build an arena right here.

My guess is that it does not happen there. The elitist neighbors view this as their private park, and UST has backed down over the years when anything was proposed for this area.

My guess is they abandon the old football practice fields by Laurel and Cretin (now the baseball fields and do something there, but I like the south campus idea on East River Road.

Okay I did not read the Ruesse article, so they might be talking about the softball field area right on Cretin, and there is a room for an Arena there as well. Worst case they demolish the Brady Center and build something up the hill from River Road and keep the green space by the River Road intact to pacify the neighbors.

One thing will never change, the neighbors and UST will never get along.
This is the south campus aerial from Google maps:


Huge space to build a new arena on the current softball/soccer field in the bottom right corner. Also obviously appears to be a lot of space in the bottom left corner, but assuming this is the space you're referring to as "the rich neighbors think of as their private park".

This also doesn't capture any sloping/hill gradient aspects to this parcel. I believe you referred to the (smaller) open space in the upper left corner as "up the hill".
 

oak_street1981

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Actually , the whole south end of that area you showed on the image could be redeveloped. There is nothing there but an old dorm, two 1970s era low rise buildings, and a lot of open space. There is a pretty big drop in elevation from the Brady Center down to east river road.
 

60's Guy

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Okay, it’s been a few years but the basketball parking lot is or was very tiny.
Has that been remedied? Big consideration to 3,000 to 6,000 people attending.
New gym about 15 years old?
 

highwayman

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Actually , the whole south end of that area you showed on the image could be redeveloped. There is nothing there but an old dorm, two 1970s era low rise buildings, and a lot of open space. There is a pretty big drop in elevation from the Brady Center down to east river road.
You're forgetting about money. The fallacy of "massive Tommie sports donors" is something hard to get past.
 

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USD has been the perennial power in Pioneer League football, making the FCS playoff field, and even willing a couple 1st round games.
Then you’ve never met 90% of high school football players.

there are players who turn down full ride d2 to play at drake or walk on at a scholarship d1 program just to say they are d1

not saying they are smart but that’s just the way it is
know for a fact most Division 2 schools are not giving out full rides for athletic scholarships in football, especially to incoming freshman
 

jovs

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Do you know of any speculation that either: 1) Big Ten hockey might be interested in adding some of the NCHC as affiliate members, or 2) the NCHC is interested in expanding past 8 members?

It would make sense to me to add Mankato. If St Thomas commits to building a new arena on-campus that is capable of hosting hockey, perhaps something similar to UDenver's arena, then maybe they'd be interested?

Would also like to see the NCHC pick up the WCHA name, again, since it's being abandoned.
I don't see any on campus arena's being built for any sport at St Thomas that would support D1 events.
 

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I don't see any on campus arena's being built for any sport at St Thomas that would support D1 events.
Because of lack of space? Or just wondering why you think that.
 

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4four4

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Rumor has it the school may demolish the football stadium and build a 3,500 to 5,500 hockey/basketball arena. Then the football team will try to play games at Alianz Field. This is where the sticking point will be in my opinion.
 

MplsGopher

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Rumor has it the school may demolish the football stadium and build a 3,500 to 5,500 hockey/basketball arena. Then the football team will try to play games at Alianz Field. This is where the sticking point will be in my opinion.
They would need a football practice facility somewhere, regardless where they play. And what about track?

Would doing a major renovation of their current b-ball varsity gym be out of the question? NDSU was able to do a major overhaul of their’s, and add a b-ball practice gym, for I think $20M? No ice making ability though.

I assume regardless, both hockey teams will have to bus down to STA for practices? Or would they try to practice at Highland arena?

Many options. All it takes is enough cash.
 

oak_street1981

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The current basketball arena is not built in a place that would allow for any major expansion. As I noted the previous 1980s era gym was quite a bit bigger, so this current facility might be good for the women, lower demand games, and practice. My guess is they consider the new facility on the current football site, but they do have some on campus space if the City does not shut them down.

The old football practice fields to the north are now a baseball field, but if they vacate that area and play baseball at the Saints stadium in Lowertown they could build an arena right there. The two south spaces mentioned are very large as well. (soccer, softball, and neighborhood dogs)

I happened to ride my bike by St. Paul Academy between Snelling and Fairview Avenues tonight, and noticed what giant spaces they control just east of Fairview, south of Randolph. Saint Thomas has about 1/5 of that immense open space. I wonder what SPA will ever do with all those acres, as they are a tiny, wealthy school with shared athletic programs, probably nothing for another 100 years.

Space is all relative, St. Thomas will build what they need and move the rest off campus. Phil Esten probably already has several alternative options.
 

MNfootballfan

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Rumor I have been hearing off and on for the past few years is that UST is close to purchasing St. Kates. It would gain a ton of space, buildings, etc and is 1.3 miles from campus.
 

Ewert86PC

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NDSU president Dr. Dean Bresicani said, there are over 40,000 Summit League alumni living the Twin Cities. I am guessing for the first few years the Tommies will have mostly road fans at their games.
This is why UST being DI is problematic. I think the U alums, not just B1G alums are not in the Twin Cities in numbers larger than this. If we add in the contentious political environment at UMN-TC, then there is plenty of traction for other schools to grow their base here.

.
 

MplsGopher

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Rumor I have been hearing off and on for the past few years is that UST is close to purchasing St. Kates. It would gain a ton of space, buildings, etc and is 1.3 miles from campus.
I have heard that brought up before on GH, and it gets shot down. I have no idea who is correct or when. But it certainly is an interesting idea.
 

MplsGopher

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This is why UST being DI is problematic. I think the U alums, not just B1G alums are not in the Twin Cities in numbers larger than this. If we add in the contentious political environment at UMN-TC, then there is plenty of traction for other schools to grow their base here.

.
If you're talking TV, then we're mainly talking men's basketball then.

I think it would take UST getting up to the Big East, to be a realistic competitor with the U for men's bball viewership.

And if they do make it up there, one day, then my hat's off to them. Hopefully the competition will rise all boats, overall, not just the U but for Minn high school players/recruits and programs too.
 

MplsGopher

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The current basketball arena is not built in a place that would allow for any major expansion. As I noted the previous 1980s era gym was quite a bit bigger, so this current facility might be good for the women, lower demand games, and practice. My guess is they consider the new facility on the current football site, but they do have some on campus space if the City does not shut them down.

The old football practice fields to the north are now a baseball field, but if they vacate that area and play baseball at the Saints stadium in Lowertown they could build an arena right there. The two south spaces mentioned are very large as well. (soccer, softball, and neighborhood dogs)

I happened to ride my bike by St. Paul Academy between Snelling and Fairview Avenues tonight, and noticed what giant spaces they control just east of Fairview, south of Randolph. Saint Thomas has about 1/5 of that immense open space. I wonder what SPA will ever do with all those acres, as they are a tiny, wealthy school with shared athletic programs, probably nothing for another 100 years.

Space is all relative, St. Thomas will build what they need and move the rest off campus. Phil Esten probably already has several alternative options.
Thanks for the discussion.

I would say the "easiest" possible thing would be to build a new arena on the baseball practice field, and perhaps a new parking ramp with access to Cretin? They'd have to setup a new throwing events space somewhere, but not sure where would make sense. I don't even see a javelin lane there now, maybe that's not an event at DIII. Doubt they can move it to the football field/infield, as that would damage the turf, for sure on javelin and probably discus and hammer too.

Where would baseball practice? South athletic fields I guess. Playing games in the Saints ballpark makes a lot of sense to me, if they can get that agreement.


Or like you might be suggesting: if they could build a new track and baseball stadium at STA, letting them use it as well, that might be a great solution for all.
 

Ewert86PC

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If you're talking TV, then we're mainly talking men's basketball then.

I think it would take UST getting up to the Big East, to be a realistic competitor with the U for men's bball viewership.

And if they do make it up there, one day, then my hat's off to them. Hopefully the competition will rise all boats, overall, not just the U but for Minn high school players/recruits and programs too.
This is really a broader topic, it has hurt, not only the MBB & WBB programs, but the entire UMN-TC athletic department: the reduction and diminishing of UMN's reputation. It started, in earnest, during my years at the school and subsequent generations have just shrugged their shoulders in apathetic acceptance.

Everyone loves to spout the free market, competition lines, but no one addresses the residual erosion to UMN. This erosion has been in the willingness of the middle class alumni to support UMN, financially and in spirit.

This erosion in middle class alumni contributions has made the atmosphere more contentious, confrontational and desperate. It has raised the negative vibe (for lack of a better word/phrase) about anything UMN. It affects recruiting, game attendance, and student participation on campus.

When the recruiting threads pop up, posters are less and less likely to argue for coming to UMN because, not only has the "cool" factor for supporting your school shriveled to microscopic size, but UMN makes it easier and easier to be disgusted by behaviors exhibited on campus by all aspects of tge school.

UMN needs to stop punching itself in the face, and reputation, and start putting forth a better public image. That will help the MBB & WBB recruiting "easy to walk away" factor when coaches come calling.

UST is not run by a flippant, whimsical, play to the trendy crowd kind of administration. This kind of an athletic departmental change, and the expanding scope & size of it, means going bigger is a 100% sure thing within their conservative mindset. Blowing off the importance and potential damage to UMN Athletics is a fools decision.
 
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