Roy Exum: The Easy Way To Win

Sunday, May 26, 2019 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Within hours after the shocking news came Tuesday that a Twin Cities university was booted out of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference “because St. Thomas won too much,” some of the talking heads in the news media put the blame squarely where it belongs. In a nation where 35 percent of the population is on some type of welfare and more than 10 million illegal immigrants are afforded all manner of free services, the inevitable has corroded the field of fair play. “If we can’t win, then you can’t play.”

St. Thomas University was one of seven small colleges in Minnesota that formed the MIAC in 1920 but on Tuesday of this week, a clandestine committee of America’s wisest men – college presidents -- summoned St. Thomas athletic director Phil Esten to inform him the Tommies, as they are called, would be “involuntarily removed” from conference membership. Why? Because St. Thomas was too successful and, to achieve parity, the best has got to go.

As one comment in the Washington Post read, “Liberalism at its best, when you kick out a team with great sports, so your school can get kids to attend and maybe win, get rid of competition!” This is beyond precedent. It smacks of all that athletics is not. It is as un-American as communism. Adolph Hitler would love it. Believe you me, there is no business model outside of the mafia.

Granted, Minnesota has made us wonder in recent years, with pro wrestler Jesse Ventura getting elected as the most unlikely governor in the history of our nation and Al Franken being voted in as a Senator, that is until he couldn’t keep his hands to himself. But tossing the Tommies makes the despicable “participation trophies” that the losers so adore pale in comparison. As a St. Paul morning radio host mused, “All of you college students with a grade-point of 3.8 or better … out of the pool and don’t come back! Parity is all that matters to the New World Order of snowflakes.”

No once can dispute St. Thomas has risen head and shoulders over the rest of the MIAC. Not only is the university now boasting the largest student body in the NCAA’s Division III, with over 6,200 students, which is twice the student body of the other 12 MIAC universities, a count of championship each school has won over the past 10 years in eight different sports is embarrassing: St. Thomas 57, Gustavus Adolphus 15, Bethel 6, St. John’s 6, Augsburg 5, Concordia (Moorhead) 2, St. Benedict 2, Carleton 1, Hamline 1, Macalester 1, St. Mary’s 1, St. Olaf 1, and St. Catherine 1.

The Tommies have won 12 consecutive MIAC all-sports trophies on both the men’s and women’s side, based on conference finish in each event. There was a day when excellence was the benchmark in college athletics but Minnesota just made it terminal.

The comment in the St. Paul Pioneer Press: “The effort to oust (St. Thomas) was done in secret with the officials declining to comment, etc. You may disagree with me, but I think those people who did it in secret and now won't comment are gutless. They don't even have the courage to be up front about it or even comment on it. Gutless.”

Ironically, the yearly football game between the Tommies and the Johnnies (St. Jones) is considered one of the most legendary rivalries on every level of college football. The 2017 game was played last year at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins, and a crowd of over 37,355 set an NCAA record for a Division III game.

This past season, St. John’s won the league, whipping the Tommies, 40-20, and, with four national championships and 33 MIAC titles, has historically been far more dominant in the sport than St. Thomas, which surged to the top a decade ago with the arrival of head coach Glenn Caruso. St. Thomas has won 118 games in coach Glenn Caruso’s 11-year tenure, most by ludicrous margins. In 2017, the team shut two different opponents out and scored a combined 181 points in the two games.

When the Tommies mauled St. Olaf, 97-0, last fall, it is believed that triggered Minnesota’s wisest college presidents – gutless as they very well might be – to engineer St. Thomas’ ‘involuntary’ ouster from the conference. What is unbelievable, up until last week the MIAC has been the ideal athletic conference before athletic excellence just felled the Tommies. Six of the conference schools are in the Twin Cities metro area, and five more are less than a 90-minute drive away including chief rival St. John’s University.

Only two foes, Concordia College in Moorhead, near the North Dakota state line, and St. Mary’s University in Winona, not far from the Wisconsin border, are more than 100 miles from St. Thomas. St. Mary’s is the only one of the 11 schools that enrolls only males – the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, and St. Catherine University in St. Paul are the all-female institutions – and do not play football.

St. Thomas will still be able to compete in the MIAC until spring 2021, unless it settles on a new solution before then. AD Phil Esten said that all options — including going independent, joining a new D-III conference, or leaping up to Division-II — are on the table.  Going to D-II makes the most sense but D-II doesn’t include hockey, which in Minnesota is sacrilege.

“We’ll sit down and take a look at all of our options and really assess where we are and where we’d like to be,” he told the Pioneer Press.

In the meantime, Minnesota sports fans are furious. “Welcome to the MIAC … the Mediocre Intercollegiate Athletic Conference … where striving to be excellent is not valued and teaching young people to just get rid of anyone better than you is a lesson they will carry through life.”

“The MIAC is trying to hit a home run – after booting St. Thomas the plan is to hire Bernie Sanders as commissioner,” wrote another.

A comment in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “This is the direction this country is heading. Those who are too successful will be handicapped, even punished. Very North Korean of them to do this. An alternative would be to amputate each St Thomas players leg and make them play one-legged. That evens the score and punishes them for being too successful at the same time … and serves as a warning to others.”

But another quote in the Washington Post said it all: “So much for the myth of competition.  We don't want to play with you anymore, you're too good.  Maybe you should try to improve instead of whine like losers … but, I already know, that’s too hard.”

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