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WATCH: ESPN personalities rip MIAC for booting St. Thomas from the league

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Former Concordia linebacker Andrew Thompson is dejected as St. Thomas defensive back Bennett Celichowski offers consolation Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, at Jake Christiansen Stadium. The Tommies scored the game-winning touchdown with two seconds to play. St. Thomas is being "involuntarily removed" from the MIAC, the conference announced Wednesday, May 22. David Samson / The Forum2 / 2

FARGO — The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced earlier this week that founding member St. Thomas is being "involuntarily removed" from the conference for being too successful in athletics.

The move received national attention this week with two ESPN shows ripping the conference. Network personality Scott Van Pelt talked about St. Thomas getting removed on the "1 Big Thing" segment of the SportsCenter show he hosts.

"And what it feels like is the parents in town who don't like that Little Leaguer who strikes out their kids and hits it in the cornfield over there so they try to ban him," Van Pelt said.

St. Thomas has been a MIAC member since 1920. The Tommies are eligible to compete in the NCAA Division III conference through the spring of 2021. The league made the announcement Wednesday, May 22.

"When you encounter the bigger, better opponent in the business place or in life, you can't just vote them out of your way, but whatever, have fun being more competitive and stuff," Van Pelt added.

The MIAC decision was also discussed on "Pardon the Interruption" with longtime sportswriters Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.

"Rather than strive to be better themselves, they are protecting their own mediocrity by demonizing the school that's good," Kornheiser said. "You've got to try to be better. If St. Thomas is not cheating and if nobody else is cheating, then lace 'em up and try and beat 'em. Don't kick them out to make sure that your awfulness becomes great and everybody gives you a Popsicle and a trophy and an apple slice."

Wilbon was also critical of the decision to remove St. Thomas from the MIAC. The MIAC Presidents' Council cited "athletic competitive parity in the conference as a primary concern" in the statement it released Wednesday.

"Unless they reverse this decision, the people who voted in favor of it, they should all lose their jobs," Wilbon said. "They should lose their jobs. They should be fired."

Former Concordia wide receiver Brandon Zylstra, who now plays for the Minnesota Vikings, told The Forum he didn't like the decision to remove St. Thomas from the MIAC.

"I have a hard time believing we kicked them out only because they were too good," Zylstra said. "There has to be more to it. Even if that was the 'main' reason, I think that was absolute bogus."

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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