After speculation about a potential move to Division III athletics from a leaked report back in early April, the University of Hartford Board of Regents made the announcement on Thursday, May 6 that the program will make an official transition to Division III. By 2025, the lone private institution in the America East (AE) will leave the conference and the Division I ranks.
“Intercollegiate athletics has long been an integral part of the University of Hartford student experience and that will not change,” said Hartford Board of Regents chair David Gordon. “At the same time, a move to Division III will allow the University to further strengthen the academic, cocurricular and wellness experience for all students. While we know this decision will disappoint some members of our community, we remain confident that this shift is in the best long-term interests of the institution and all its students.”
The leaked report from April claimed that the possible move to Division III came as a result of a lack of financial viability from supporting a Division I model. Hartford, a private institution, lacks government funding and its financial issues may have been further impacted by monetary loss from COVID-19. According to the report, Hartford loses $13 million a year on athletics.
Earlier this year, the Hartford men’s basketball team won the 2020-21 America East (AE) championship title and moved on to its first-ever NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament appearance. The AE released a statement on Twitter in regards to Hartford’s decision.
“Last night, we were notified by the University of Hartford of its decision to transition its athletics program to Division III,” the statement read. “We have appreciated Hartford’s membership in America East for over 30 years, yet respect the decision that was made in alignment with the university’s mission and objectives. Led by our Board of Presidents, we will work on transition details over the coming weeks.”
Hartford plans to file its official intent to transition to Division III with the NCAA in January 2022. Upon approval, the university intends to prepare for active Division III membership by no later than Sep. 1, 2025.
“The University of Hartford owes so much to the generations of student-athletes and athletics staff who have added immeasurably to our community and are a source of pride for the University,” said Hartford President Gregory S. Woodward. “As we transition to this new model for intercollegiate athletics in the coming years, I am energized by the opportunities we will have to support the success of all of our students, including our student-athletes.”