ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The University of St. Thomas gained NCAA support Wednesday for the Minnesota school’s bid to move its athletic programs directly from Division III to Division I.

The NCAA’s Division I council announced after a committee meeting that St. Thomas can make a formal request to waive reclassification rules that currently mandate a 12-year process with a stop in Division II.

The NCAA said the Division I council will vote by April on a proposal to alter those rules to allow any Division III school to move directly to Division I in a five-year reclassification process, provided certain criteria are satisfied.

St. Thomas, a private Catholic institution of about 6,000 undergraduate students in St. Paul, Minnesota, has been ejected from its Division III league for competitive reasons.

St. Thomas will play its final season in the 100-year-old Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference during the 2020-21 school year. If the NCAA approves, the Summit League will be the primary home for the Tommies in all sports but football and hockey.

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