ST. PAUL — St. Thomas has been invited to join the NCAA Division I Summit League, the league announced Friday, Oct. 4.

League commissioner Tom Douple released the following statement:

"The President's Council unanimously and enthusiastically voted to support the membership application made to the League by the University of St. Thomas. The vote is the result of months of due diligence and extensive research including numerous campus visits, stakeholder meetings, and data collection. While the League recognizes the extraordinary efforts ahead for UST to seek Division I membership, we believe this institution is the right fit for The Summit League and we will support the reclassification process."

The Tommies had been longtime members of the Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The move is pending approval that gives St. Thomas the waiver to go directly from Division III to Division I. The Tommies were recently "involuntary removed" from the MIAC and could stay in the league through the spring of 2021.

"If the NCAA ultimately grants the waiver request, St. Thomas will begin competing in the Summit League in fall 2021, after two full final years in the MIAC," St. Thomas president Julie H. Sullivan wrote on the school's website Friday.

The Summit League doesn't currently sponsor football or ice hockey, two sports that St. Thomas currently offers. The school stated via its website it would actively pursue affiliate membership for those sports in other Division I conferences.

"Joining the Summit League would be a unique and exciting opportunity for St. Thomas, allowing us to significantly expand our impact and reach," Sullivan wrote.

Teams currently competing in the Summit League include North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Denver, Western Illinois, Nebraska-Omaha, Oral Roberts and Purdue-Fort Wayne.