RETURN OF INVESTMENT
LAST 10 GAMES
NCAA Division: Division I
Past Conferences: Summit
City: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Stadium: Schoenecker Arena
NCAA Tournaments: 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019
*Indicates appearances in Division III
National Championships: None
Conference Titles: None
The St. Thomas – Minnesota Tommies men’s basketball program took a different approach compared to the other teams in the conference. Many programs that compete in the Summit League started at Div II two, but the Tommies began at the Div III level.
Before making appearances in Division III tournaments, the Tommies at Saint Thomas had already established themselves as a formidable team by winning numerous championships in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. They were victorious in 1924, 1946, 1949, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1981, and 1989. The foundation of the program was laid over 65 years.
The success would continue since the school kicked it up a notch. It was the first ticket punched by the program to the tournament. The team’s chances of making it to the Sectional Third Place game were high as they had a convincing performance in the second round, even though they lost in a close overtime game against the DePauw Tigers.
During the 1994 season, the school’s team reached the semi-finals, but they were defeated by NYU. Unfortunately, they also lost the Third Place game against Wittenberg. The team fell in the first round a year after a strong postseason campaign in 2009. However, the program used its shortcomings as motivation because it made it count in 2011.
Winning the National Championship
The team successfully navigated through the Sectional and National Semifinals, defeating Wisconsin–Stevens Point and Middlebury, respectively. They went on to win the National Championship game with a commanding victory against Wooster.
The St. Thomas Minnesota team’s stats were remarkable, as they were able to replicate their success from 2016 by once again achieving this feat. They took advantage of the competition, showing their dominance at both ends of the court.
After winning a close game against Christopher Newport in the National Semifinals, the Tommies would lift the trophy after defeating Benedictine (IL) in the National Championship game. In the process of making the jump to Division I, these convincing wins gradually gained them national recognition.
The 2019 season ended the school’s long stint in the Division III ranks. After ejecting the Minnesota private school from its conference for being too dominant, the NCAA approved St. Thomas’ move directly from Division III to Division I a few months later.
Head coach John Tauer will lead the Tommies for the second consecutive season. Although St. Thomas has played well, it needs to pile up more wins in the conference. The school faces long NCAAB odds to win the Summit League this season, but the program is certainly trending in the right direction for the foreseeable future.
All-Time Records (Brief Time in Division I)
- Riley Miller 448
- Anders Nelson 422
- Parker Bjorklund 305
- Parker Bjorklund 151
- Brooks Allen 140
- Burt Hedstrom 106
- Anders Nelson 80
- Riley Miller 63
- Brooks Allen 59
- Brooks Allen 24
- Anders Nelson 23
- Kevin Cunningham 21
How did the program make the jump from Division III to Division I?
Due to their competitive nature, the Tommies program was deemed too advanced for the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). As a result, the Tommies announced that, pending NCAA approval, they would join the Summit League.
All but three of their 22 varsity teams would make the jump. Additionally, the football program joined the Pioneer League for football, while the women’s hockey team became members of the Western Collegiate Hockey.
Who is the current coach of the program?
John Tauer is the head coach of his alma mater for the second straight season and was a member of the 1994 NCAA Division III Final Four team under head coach Steve Fritz. Tauer returned to St. Thomas as a professor and assistant men’s basketball coach under Fritz after earning his doctorate in social psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
After Fritz announced his retirement in 2011, Tauer became the interim head coach of the program. Now, he is the head coach and plans to build the team going forward.
How Many Division I programs are based in Minnesota?
The St. Thomas Tommies (Summit League) moving to Division I made history; they became only the second program from Minnesota to reach this level, alongside the Minnesota Gophers, who play in the Big Ten.