08:02 AM

University of St. Thomas-Houston Advances to Official Membership of NCAA Division III

University of St. Thomas-Houston celebrates its official membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III effective Sept. 1, 2022.

It Is Official!

UST President Dr. Richard Ludwick and Athletic Director Todd Smith announced the news to the UST community at its fall 2022 semester Opening Day festivities to thunderous cheers.

“The successful renewed emphasis on growing UST's athletics has energized our community," President Ludwick said. "Our striking emergence within the NCAA is a significant indicator of the more remarkable things that UST is set to accomplish.”

"We are excited to receive word from the NCAA graduating us to official DIII membership," Smith said. "It has been a very long, educational and fun process. We have launched talented new teams, welcomed many more student athletes, and grown as a department to prepare for this next step in our trajectory.

"This year, we have more than 300 student athletes at UST, and we are excited to be eligible for postseason competition at last,” Smith said.  “A special thanks to Dr. Ludwick, our University Board, our very committed and patient student athletes and everyone who helped throughout the process!"


From 2006-2018, UST Athletics competed in NAIA and the Red River Athletic Conference. In 2018, an invitation was extended for UST to begin an exploratory year of transition to NCAA DIII followed by three provisional membership years before full membership in 2022.  During this time, St. Thomas competed in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) with Trinity, Colorado College,  Southwestern, Texas Lutheran, Schreiner, University of Dallas, Centenary and Austin College.

Women’s volleyball is the first sport to play under the NCAA official membership status on Sept. 1 against East Texas Baptist University.  Women’s Volleyball athlete, Alyssa Ajlouny, was also happy with the transition into the NCAA.

“It has been amazing to watch the growth of this program over the last five years,” she said. “From NAIA in my freshman year to NCAA in my fifth and final season; my teammates and I are eager to work hard and win.”

With full membership in NCAA DIII, UST teams are eligible to compete postseason, unlike the past four years, when they won a conference championship but could not move on to national tournaments.

UST alumnus and Men’s Head Basketball Coach Anthony Medina ‘12, MBA ‘21, led basketball teams to four Men’s Basketball SCAC Conference Championships in three years: 2020, 2021 and 2022.  He was also named 2020 SCAC Coach of the Year.

“Completing the transition to NCAA marks the beginning of a new chapter for UST Athletics," Medina said. "We are excited to continue writing the story of UST Athletics in the NCAA as an institution that values education, competition and integrity."

DIII Student Athletes Prioritize Academics

Colleges and universities in DIII place the highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience and on the successful completion of all student academic programs. During this experience, student athletes are in an environment that values cultural diversity and gender equity.

19 Different NCAA DIII Sports Plus Intercollegiate Spirit and Esports

In 2022-2023, UST tallied 300 student athletes and added cheer and dance teams. Notably, 120 new student athletes became part of our athletics family in 2022-2023. In addition, UST hired a swim coach for its new competitive swim program. Swimming begins in the 2023 season bringing the UST student-athlete total to 350 with 25 staff members. Currently, UST has 19 different sports and non-NCAA Spirit and Esports.

Growth Timeline:

  • 2006, Women's Volleyball
  • 2007 Men's Soccer
  • 2009 Men’s Basketball
  • 2011 Women’s Basketball and Men’s and Women's Golf  
  • 2014 Women’s Soccer
  • 2018 Cross Country
  • 2019 Baseball and Men’s and Women's Tennis
  • 2020 Softball and Men’s and Women’s Track and Field
  • 2021, Men’s and Women's Indoor Track
  • 2024 Men’s and Women’s Swimming