Less than two months after the Hartford men's basketball team reached its first NCAA tournament, the university's board of regents voted Thursday to transition the athletic programs from Division I to Division III.
The university will have to file its intent to the NCAA in January 2022 and expects to be transitioned to Division III by Sept. 1, 2025.
"A move to Division III will allow the University to further strengthen the academic, co-curricular, and wellness experience for all students," board of regents chair David Gordon said in a statement. "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."
Hartford men's basketball coach John Gallagher was among those expressing disappointment, tweeting Friday that the team has "made a united decision that we are staying together to play next season. We will fight hard to repeat our success and continue to elevate this program to new heights."
Last month, a University of Hartford athletics feasibility study, commissioned by school president Gregory Woodward and conducted by the consulting firm CarrSports, was made public. The study indicated the school would save $9.2 million per year by going from Division I to Division III.
Coaching contracts and student-athlete scholarships will be honored, but new athletic scholarship offers will cease beginning in the 2022-23 school year.
Hartford made a surprising run through the America East tournament in March, upsetting top seed Vermont in the semifinals and then beating UMass Lowell in the championship to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Hawks lost to eventual national champion Baylor in the first round. Coach John Gallagher was expected to return most of his key players next season and could make a repeat run to the NCAA tournament.