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NCAA Advances UST Houston to Provisional Members Division III

UST Accepted into NCAA Division IIIThe National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Membership Committee announced that University of St. Thomas Houston has been accepted as a provisional member effective Feb. 21, 2019.

The UST Celts have successfully completed the exploratory-year transition from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) to NCAA Division III Provisional membership.

SCAC Membership

Last year, during the exploratory year, UST Celts accepted membership in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC). SCAC members include Austin College, Centenary College, Colorado College, University of Dallas, Schreiner University, Southwestern University, Texas Lutheran University, Trinity University and Jonson & Wales University (Denver).

“The approval of the University of St. Thomas as a provisional member of NCAA Division III is a great day for the institution and an appropriate reward for months of hard work done by everyone on campus,” said SCAC Commissioner Dwayne Hanberry. “Specifically, the leadership exhibited by President Richard Ludwick and Director of Athletics Todd Smith throughout this process led to today’s announcement and validates the faith the SCAC Presidents had in St. Thomas when we made our initial offer of league membership a year ago.”

“We are excited to have St. Thomas student-athletes competing in the SCAC in 2019-20, and we look forward to strengthening our partnership as the institution continues to navigate the provisional membership process over the next four years,” Hanberry said.

UST President Richard Ludwick, along with Athletic Director Todd Smith, made the announcement to the community on Monday, Feb. 25 via email. View video here.

White letters SCAC against blue oval background, encircled by gold text: Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

NCAA Member Colleges

“Membership in the NCAA validates the efforts and vision of our former student-athletes who committed themselves to a young Athletic 

Department with unlimited potential,” Athletic Director Todd Smith said. “I am very excited for the future of UST athletics and the student-athletes who now have the opportunity to compete in the SCAC and the NCAA while pursuing a terrific education at St. Thomas.”

Division III is the largest of all NCAA division. More than 450 institutions from California to New York compete in Division III. There are 17 NCAA Division III schools in Texas. In addition, Division III member institutions tend to be well-respected academic institutions. UST will now be in the company of MIT, The University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, Williams College and Amherst College – all NCAA Division III members.

SCAC member Southwestern University sponsored UST in their quest for NCAA Division III and SCAC membership. "Today's announcement of being awarded provisional membership in the NCAA Division III is a tribute to the hard work by Director of Athletics Todd Smith and his university's administration,” Southwestern Associate Vice President for Athletics Dr. Glada Munt. “Having worked together over the past year, we are confident that they will be outstanding colleagues in the SCAC."

Major Milestone in University History

This is a major milestone in the history of University of St. Thomas athletics. Other milestones include the growth of the Athletic Department over the last 12 years. Starting in 2019-2020 the Athletic Program will have 12 teams – six men’s and six women’s – and approximately 180 student athletes with plans to grow to around 230 by the fall of 2020. These teams include women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s baseball.

Provisional membership is a pre-requisite for active membership in the NCAA. The provisional process for Division III institutions is a four-year process with the possibility of reducing it to three years.

The Celts will begin competing in the fall of 2019 in both the SCAC and NCAA.


The University of St. Thomas is Houston’s Catholic University. For more than 70 years, UST has graduated students into successful careers in medicine, education, business, public administration and more. As Houston grows, UST will continue to provide the strong leaders and skilled workers needed to meet those demands.