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It’s Official UST to DIII

Blog_600x300_UST to DIII

September 1, 2022 was a special day at the University of St. Thomas. On that milestone date, UST advanced to official membership in NCAA Division III. After four long years of courting – as introductory and provisional members – the dream became a reality. That same day, UST Women’s Volleyball took on East Texas Baptist University under the NCAA official status. Women’s Volleyball student athlete, Alyssa Ajlouny, was thrilled to witness the transition. “It has been amazing to watch the growth of this program over the last five years. From NAIA in my freshman year to NCAA in my fifth and final season, my teammates and I are eager to work hard and win.”- Alyssa Ajlouny, BBA/MBA ’23

In a remarkable coincidence, Women’s Volleyball took to the court on another auspicious day 16 years earlier as UST’s first official competitive sports team. 

From 2006 to 2018, UST was a passionate competitor within the NAIA and the Red River Athletic Conference, steadily building its program. Todd Smith took a leadership role in that development when he joined the athletic staff as Men’s Basketball coach in 2009. On his winning team at that time was a young student, Anthony Medina, who would, years later, return to fill the Men’s Basketball coaching shoes when Smith advanced to Athletic Director.

When the NCAA reached out in 2018, their invitation was another opportunity for UST Athletics to prove itself. The program began an exploratory year of transition to NCAA DIII, followed by three provisional membership years before gaining full membership in 2022. During this period, St. Thomas competed in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC).

SCAC Member Institutions

  • Austin College
  • Centenary College
  • Colorado College
  • University of Dallas
  • Schreiner University
  • Southwestern University
  • University of St. Thomas
  • Texas Lutheran University
  • Trinity University

UST alumnus and Men’s Basketball Head Coach Anthony Medina led teams to four Men’s Basketball SCAC Championships in 2020, 2021 and 2022. He was named 2020 SCAC Coach of the Year.

“Completing the transition to NCAA marks the beginning of a new chapter for UST Athletics. We are excited to continue writing the story of UST Athletics in the NCAA as a university that values education, competition and integrity.” – Anthony Medina, Men’s Basketball Head Coach.

Colleges and universities in DIII place the highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience and on the successful completion of all student academic programs. 

In 2022-2023, UST has more than 300 student athletes and added Cheer and Dance teams. Notably, 120 new student athletes joined our athletics family. In addition, UST hired a swim coach for its new competitive Swim Program. Swimming begins in the 2023 season bringing the UST student athlete total to 350 with 25 staff members. Currently, UST has 19 different sports, intercollegiate Spirit and Esports.   

Timeline:

2006

Volleyball

2007

Men’s Soccer

2009

Men’s Basketball

2011

Women’s Basketball and

Men’s and Women’s Golf

2014

Women’s Soccer

2018

Men’s and Women’s Cross Country

2019

Baseball and Men’s and

Women’s Tennis

2020

Softball and Men’s and Women’s

Outdoor Track and Field

2021

Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track

2023

Men’s and Women’s Swimming

“Now with St. Thomas competing fully in NCAA Division III, we are in the conversation athletically against national powerhouses such as MIT, Johns Hopkins and UChicago.”

Sean Sheikh

Assistant Director for Media Relations

“This year, we were excited to receive word from the NCAA elevating us to official DIII membership. It has been a very long, educational and fun process. We have launched talented new teams, welcomed many more student athletes, and grown as a department to prepare for this next step in our trajectory. In 2022, UST student athletes are now eligible for postseason competition at last. A special thanks to Dr. Ludwick, our University Board, donors, coaches, very committed and patient student athletes, and everyone who helped throughout the process!”

Todd Smith

Athletic Director.

“The successfully renewed emphasis on growing UST Athletics has energized our community. Our striking emergence within the NCAA is a significant indicator of the greater things that UST will accomplish in the future.”

Dr. Richard Ludwick

UST President

About the Author — Sandra Soliz, MLA '01 Soliz

AvatarSandra Soliz, director of Communications for University of St. Thomas, has served the University for 20 years in Marketing Communications Department. In her position, she handles media relations and serves as the editor of the Encounter Magazine.

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