(Story Courtesy of SCACsports.com)
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - In an announcement made today at league headquarters, the University of St. Thomas (Houston, Texas) has accepted membership into the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC), becoming the 10th member of the NCAA Division III league.
Currently affiliated as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Red River Conference, St. Thomas was accepted as an exploratory membership in NCAA Division III for the 2018-19 academic year in an announcement made last Thursday.
The offer of membership is contingent upon St. Thomas successfully navigating that exploratory year and advancing to provisional NCAA Division III membership in 2019-20 – at which time the institution would begin regular season competition in the SCAC.
"This is really a recognition not only of the quality of our athletics program, but of the quality of our academics and institution as a whole," said St. Thomas President Dr. Richard Ludwick. "It is exciting to think about the level of competition that we have been invited to join."
The University of St. Thomas currently has nine varsity programs and approximately 115 student-athletes. Men's intercollegiate teams include basketball, cross country, golf and soccer. Women's intercollegiate teams include basketball, cross country, golf and volleyball.
With acceptance as a SCAC member, St. Thomas will actively explore adding both men's and women's tennis as well as baseball. To qualify for SCAC membership, an institution must sponsor and participate in at least 12 intercollegiate conference-sponsored sports.
"We are pleased to welcome the University of St. Thomas to exploratory membership in NCAA Division III and the SCAC," said Texas Lutheran University President Stuart Dorsey, chair of the SCAC Board of Directors. "UST's academic strength and athletic philosophy is a great match for our membership, and its location in the vibrant city of Houston brings strength to our conference."
"Today is a great day for the conference," said SCAC commissioner Dwayne Hanberry. "St. Thomas brings a culture and an academic reputation that will blend nicely with our current membership. We are eager to assist the institution through the Division III exploratory and provisional membership process and look forward to their student-athletes competing in the SCAC."
The University of St. Thomas is a comprehensive Catholic university located in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston – one of the city's major cultural areas. Founded in 1947 by Basilian Fathers, it serves as the only Catholic university in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
St. Thomas currently maintains a population of 1,609 traditional undergraduate students and 1,973 graduate students. Students come from 40 states throughout the U.S. as well as 54 countries around the world.
The University's sports teams are known as the Celts, and it is the only institution in the nation to utilize that nickname.
St. Thomas Director of Athletics and Recreational Sports, Todd Smith, is very proud of the foundation that has been set by past and present student-athletes; "The student-athletes at the University of St. Thomas are some of the most dedicated young men and women with whom I have had the pleasure to work. It is a great honor for us to be asked to compete in the SCAC, and to have a chance to explore NCAA Division III membership."
The Celts introduced volleyball and re-established its athletics program in 2006. Since that time, St. Thomas has been a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and in 2010-2011 joined the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC). St. Thomas has won 11 RRAC Conference Championships and appeared in 11 NAIA National Tournaments.
SOUTHERN COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
AT A GLANCE
The SCAC, originally known as the College Athletic Conference (CAC) upon its formation in 1962, is comprised of some of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges and universities in the nation.
The SCAC was formed to provide an association through which the member institutions may encourage organized competition in intercollegiate sports among teams representative of their respective student bodies. Members of this conference share a commitment to priority of the overall quality of academic standards and quality educational experiences.
SCAC member institutions are committed to sponsoring a variety of varsity sports to maximize opportunities for student participation. SCAC schools also operate under the principle that participation in sports should be solely from student interest and enjoyment of athletic competition, and that no financial aid shall be given to any student which is conditional upon athletic ability or participation in intercollegiate sports.
SCAC member institutions support students in their efforts to reach high levels of performance by providing them with adequate facilities, competent coaching and appropriate competitive opportunities with students from similar institutions.
CURRENT MEMBERSHIP (First year of participation)
Trinity University – San Antonio, Texas (1989)
Southwestern University – Georgetown, Texas (1994)
Austin College – Sherman, Texas (2006)
Colorado College – Colorado Springs, Colo. (2006)
University of Dallas – Irving, Texas (2011)
Centenary College – Shreveport, La. (2012)
Schreiner University – Kerrville, Texas (2013)
Texas Lutheran University – Seguin, Texas (2013)
Johnson & Wales University – Denver, Colo. (2018)
University of St. Thomas - Houston, Texas (2019)