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Thomas More Invited to Join NAIA, Could Leave NCAA

Thomas More College was invited to join the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the school announced Tuesday.

The Saints would compete in the Mid-South Conference as early as the 2019-20 academic year, a news release said.

The school was a member of the NAIA until 1990 when it joined NCAA Division III where the Saints have become strong contenders in sports such as women's basketball, men's basketball, and football, among others.

“On behalf of Thomas More College, I would like to thank the NAIA and the Mid-South for their invitations and interest in the College and our athletic department joining their highly competitive association and conference,” said Thomas More Director of Athletics Terry Connor.

The NAIA is a national collegiate athletic association that is made-up of over 250 colleges. The Mid-South is made up of eight full-time members that are located in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Georgia.

The conference includes other Kentucky schools such as Georgetown (which is looking to move into NCAA Division II), Campbellsville, University of the Cumberlands, Lindsey Wilson, and Pikeville. Other schools include Cumberland (Lebanon, Tennessee), Life (Marietta, Georgia), and Shawnee State (Portsmouth, Ohio).

Thomas More athletics spokesperson Cory Blackson said that no official decision has been made, but a news release and comment from the NAIA made Tuesday's announcement sound like a done deal.

Thomas More was added by a vote of the NAIA council of presidents on Sunday.

New members include: Columbia International University (S.C.), Cottey College (Mo.), Florida National University, Green Mountain College (Vt.), Lincoln College (Ill.), Ottawa University (Ariz.), The Pennsylvania State University Schuylkill, and Thomas More

“We’re excited to welcome these eight new members into the NAIA,” said Jim Carr, NAIA president and CEO. “These institutions share the NAIA's commitment to high standards and to the principle that participation in athletics serves as an integral part of the student experience.”

Green Mountain and Thomas More are former members that would be returning to the NAIA after competing in NCAA Division III. The Eagles and Saints are immediately eligible for postseason competition for that reason.

Last year, Thomas More announced that it would depart the NCAA Division III Presidents' Athletic Conference. D3Sports.com reported Tuesday that Thomas More had been unable to find a new NCAA Division III conference to join.

This story may be updated.

-Staff report