DULUTH — The College of St. Scholastica announced Wednesday that they will end their relationship with the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) and join the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) beginning in the 2021-22 school year.
The Saints will be filling the hole left by the University of St. Thomas after the school was forced out of the MIAC last May after a decade of dominance by the Tommies in football.
“We were approached by MIAC leadership recently about the possibility of membership,” said St. Scholastica President Barbara McDonald. “We did an extensive internal assessment on what the move would mean for not only our athletics department and student-athletes, but the College as a whole. This is a very good fit with our institutional identity, and with the aspirations of Saints coaches, student-athletes and fans. We look forward to joining our Minnesota private college peers in the MIAC.”
Scholastica will be the 13th full-time member of the conference and will join other private undergrad Minnesota colleges such as Augsburg University, Bethel University, Carleton College, Concordia College-Moorhead, Gustavus Adolphus College, Hamline University, Macalester College, the College of Saint Benedict, St. Catherine University, Saint John’s University, Saint Mary’s University and St. Olaf College.
“This is an exciting day as we welcome St. Scholastica to the MIAC,” said Rebecca Bergman, Gustavus Adolphus College president and chair of the MIAC Presidents’ Council. “St. Scholastica has a strong commitment to the NCAA Division III philosophy and shares the vision of quality athletics, academics, student-athlete well-being, and integrity that we value in the MIAC. The Saints have been a familiar opponent for many years and it is with great pleasure that we now welcome them as a conference member to begin this new chapter in MIAC history.”
The Saints participate in 22 varisty-level sports and 20 of them will be making the transition to the MIAC. The men’s and women’s Nordic ski teams will remain in the Central Collegiate Ski Association.
For the first time ever, the men’s and women’s hockey programs will be under the same conference umbrella as the rest of the sports at CSS as the MIAC sponsors both sports. The Saints will leave the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association as a result.
The move will end CSS’s time in the UMAC after 25 years of membership. Since 1995, St. Scholastica has won 210 UMAC regular season championships and 106 UMAC postseason titles.
“Our pursuit of athletic excellence is in line with the core values of the MIAC,” St. Scholastica Director of Athletics Franco Bari said, “and we have a strong commitment to enhancing various areas for competitive success as we prepare for the transition. In addition, we have an extremely experienced and dedicated staff who are heavily invested in our programs and while this move will provide us with a different type of challenge, I am confident in our ability to rise to the occasion.
“We have been grateful for the opportunity to compete in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference throughout the years and we are proud of our many memorable achievements,” Bari said. “I have the utmost respect for the UMAC leadership and member institutions, which made this a very challenging decision. The conference has enabled athletic departments like CSS to gain a footprint at a national level and we will miss the relationships formed over the years as a UMAC member. We hope to continue our rivalries in the non-conference.”
Alongside the Saints, Macalester College will be re-joining the MIAC in football as the conference adopts a 10-team, two-division format. St. Scholastica will find itself in a division with Carleton, Gustavus Adolphus, Saint John’s and St. Olaf. The other division will contain Augsburg, Bethel, Concordia-Moorhead, Hamline and Macalester.