Report: After reaching March Madness, UHart contemplating an exit from Division I athletics

Dom Amore, Hartford Courant
·2 min read

Less than a month after gaining national attention in the NCAA Tournament, the University of Hartford is contemplating a drop in athletics from Division I to Division III, according to a television report.

“Look at the University of Hartford,” school president Gregory Woodward told WTNH-TV. “How many of our players go pro, one or two a year, that’s not our goal. We will do the right thing for this university and all of our 7,000 students.”

No decision has been made yet.

WTNH-TV obtained a copy of the study, from Carr Sports Consulting, which found UHart was losing $13 million per year on its athletic programs and recommended it look into the viability of dropping to Division III, where it could join area schools such as St. Joseph’s in West Hartford, Trinity in Hartford, Wesleyan in Middletown, Albertus Magnus in New Haven, and Eastern Connecticut in Willimantic and Western Connecticut in Danbury.

In winning America East’s automatic bid and playing in the tournament, where the Hawks lost March 19 to eventual national champion Baylor in the first round, the men’s basketball program brought national attention to UHart. Coach John Gallagher made numerous media appearances and called the experience “transformative” for the program and the school.

But even as UHart was having its historic season, the study was being prepared.

“Everyone thinks, you make tournament you hit the jackpot,” Woodward told Channel 8. “We didn’t get a cent from the tournament. Congratulations to our great kids, but we are losing money doing this. I don’t think … the world understands is that everyone who plays Division I sports loses money, except for about 22 schools.”

UHart first went Division I in 1984, at the beginning of the trend in which many Division II schools moved up to play as a “mid-major” in basketball, competing for a conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid and become part of March Madness, or play what is now FCS level football.

Dom Amore can be reached at damore@courant.com; Lori Riley can be reached at lriley@couant.com