The University of Hartford Board of Regents voted Thursday to transition from a Division I to Division III sports model.
The decision comes after the Hartford men’s basketball team this season won its first America East championship and played in the NCAA Tournament for the first time, losing to eventual national champion Baylor in the first round.
University officials said the decision comes after a year of discussion and study of the current athletics model, along with the potential for alternatives. The university also reviewed a report from an on-campus task force made up of coaches, staff, faculty, alumni and a member of the Board.
“A move to Division III will allow the University to further strengthen the academic, co-curricular, 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," Board Chair David Gordon said in a statement.
The discussion to downgrade to Division III has sparked marches on campus led by athletes and a petition from alumni to remain in Division I.
The university will have to file its intent with the National Collegiate Athletic Association in January of next year. If approved, the university will work with the NCAA on the reclassification process.
The transition to Division III would become effective no later than Sept. 1, 2025. All student-athlete scholarships and coaching contracts will be honored, a university spokesperson said.
For the 2022-23 school year, the university will not be offering new athletic scholarships to incoming student-athletes.
“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,” UHart President Gregory S. Woodward said in a statement. “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.”
School officials said the transition "better aligns with the university's mission and goals of creating exceptional academic, co-curricular, and wellness experiences for all students."
A consultants report released last month said the school could save more than $9 million a year by making the move, the Associated Press reported.
The school joined Division I from Division II in the mid-1980s.
For a more in-depth timeline of the transition, click here.