In a change handed all the way down from the NCAA presidential level, the MIAC must now honor the extra year of eligibility granted to students who redshirted when transferring into the conference from Division I and Division II schools.
Redshirting refers to when players are allowed to practice with a team but do not participate in NCAA competition, and therefore maintain that year’s worth of eligibility. All NCAA athletes are allowed four years of eligibility, and until this change was made, student-athletes who transferred into the MIAC after redshirting lost that year’s worth of eligibility.
In order for a rule change to be made, it first needs to go through the coaches, then the conference athletic directors and finally to the faculty athletic representatives (FARs). According to Athletic Director Steve Fritz, the change has been a long time coming.
“Twice in the last three or four years, it’s been passed by the athletic directors and voted down by the FARs,” he said. “In September it was brought before the NCAA presidents and they voted to make the change.”
The rule change was put into effect immediately. So student athletes who transferred as redshirts, such as the football and basketball team’s Brady Ervin, are now officially listed with one extra year of eligibility. Ervin, who started the football season as a senior in eligibility, is now a junior with the option to play another season. Ervin and the rest of the players on the football team affected by the change, which include Tommy Becker, Zach Sturm, Josh Ostrue and Joe Herrera, all plan to play next season.
The rule change puts the MIAC on equal footing with the rest of Division III.
“When you have a big conference next door like the Wisconsin conference that you have to go through to get to the national level, you want to be on the same playing field,” Fritz said.
According to Fritz, St. Thomas has long been an advocate for the change and he believes in the end it isn’t so much about athletic competition as it is an institutional issue.
“If we believe that having them on campus and in athletics is enhancing their academic experience, why wouldn’t we give them a full experience?” he said. “Students take a variety of paths to get here… but once they’re here, they’re all St. Thomas students.”
For a select few student athletes on campus, this change means an extra year of competition that they started out the year not knowing they had. For them at least, the MIAC’s move to join the rest of Division III in honoring redshirt transfers means one more season as a Tommie.
Jordan Osterman can be reached at email@example.com